Primarily Primates, a 75-acre sanctuary in San Antonio, is home to 450 animals, and it’s also a space within a larger ecology. So its directors are turning to the power of the wind and sun. This month, they’ve overseen the installation of a 50-foot wind turbine to offset the rising financial and environmental impact of electricity and fossil fuels.

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The small, stand-alone turbine is versatile enough to supply power to lights, security cameras, and cooling systems. It produces 400 watts of electricity per hour, and feeds power back into the grid while the windmill gathers energy to recharge two 12-volt batteries.  The power supply is uninterrupted, and free of charge.

R.B. Electrical has helped Primarily Primates meet its electrical needs for nine years.  When renewable energy became a viable electric power option, R.B. partnered with San Antonio’s Connexa Energy, a leader in solar and wind turbine technologies.

Stephen Tello, executive director of Primarily Primates, said: “Power is a large part of our operating budget, so renewable energy is a great way for us to respect our donors’ gifts while meeting the needs of the animals in our care.”

Tello added, “The new turbine will allow Primarily Primates to avoid additional power costs for our new lights and security cameras. We’re also planning additional installations to cut overall electrical costs by a third.”

A solar panel will power the lighting for a living area for our US Air Force chimpanzees, and an overhead solar power street light has been erected above a large natural aviary for parrots.

Richard Stein of R.B. Electrical describes Primarily Primates as a little village, with its many shelters of different sizes.

“There are individual heating needs, group spaces with cooling systems, refrigeration, lighting and security needs,” said Stein. “As the sanctuary grows, turbines and solar panels will be easy to install, and provide instant energy, allowing the refuge to reduce or even eliminate reliance on traditional fossil fuels.”

U.S. wind power grew by 45 percent in 2007, according to the American Wind Energy Association.  Wind is replenished daily by the sun: As portions of the earth are heated, air rushes to fill the low pressure areas, creating wind power, which is converted by the turbine into electricity.

And Priscilla Feral, president of the sanctuary and Friends of Animals, pointed out: “Our new turbine emits a hum that warns and protects birds and bats. The use of natural energy will help bring our refuge in line with our concern for the ecology and the beings that inhabit it.”