PAUL, Minn., April 19, 2017 — American wind power added jobs over 9 times faster than the overall economy amid robust growth for another year, according to the American Wind Energy Association (AWEA), which released its 2016 U.S. Wind Industry Annual Market Report today at the Minnesota State Capitol. Installing over 8,000 megawatts (MW) of new wind power for a second straight year, the U.S. industry invested over $14 billion in 2016 in new wind farms built in rural America, and now supports a record-high 102,500 jobs.
If you live in a suburban or rural area, you will probable have more success with a wind generator for home use. Will your efforts produce sufficient power to supply your home? Will wind power technologies be more in your comfort zone? Your neighbors might not be as excited as you about changing the skyline with a wind turbine.
Have you identified everything that you want to achieve? How high is your interest level as a weekend warrior verses a true commitment to build a wind generator?
In order to build your wind generator correctly, you will probably need permits for your area. This will likely be no different than any other building permit request. Consider what your neighbors will see when your wind generatoris complete and whether they will be as pleased as you are. Some people will fine a reason to oppose anything new. There are some people who have developed an opinion about alternative energy production before the topic was ever discussed. Some people have the wrong information about factors around wind turbines, like the noise they could produce when in operation. Will a wind tower effect your neighborhood? Some people simply don’t want to see an wind tower on their neighbors roof.
Let’s look further into the Do-It-Yourself building of a wind generator.
To make sure that your permit application is a smooth event, plan well ahead of your application by getting to know your neighbors. Casually talk with your neighbors about your renewable energy plans. Share with them about how excited you are to capture wind energy and point out the positive points of creating your own energy. Most important, arm yourself with knowledge about the system you are considering installing, addressing any of their fears or misinformation before challenges arise. Knowing ahead of time about any potential roadblocks from neighbors or local officials will help you plan a positive approach to securing your permit to add a wind generator for home use. Know in advance that change will create opposition.
Did you know that many people have no idea what a small wind turbine looks like? Manufacturers share literature on their equipment. You can get this to share with those people not knowledgeable with small turbines. There have been so many technological advances in design, that negative opinions may be based on seriously outdated information. Some concerns to address will be:
– Noise is the first challenge that you will need to be able to address. – Blades coming off with no warning is the second issue that you will need to address. – The third concern is about voltage straying to the neighbor and – Fourth about the unsightly appearance. – The fifth challenge will be about lightning strikes and – Sixth about killing the local bird population. – Hearing problems from a wind generator is always seventh on the list. – Eight may be concerning a fire hazard if the wind is too high and the blades turn too fast. Ignorance leads to fear. Your best hedge is education.
Although it is much less expensive to initially get hooked into the local electric company’s grid than it is to set up and hook into wind turbines, in the long run one saves money by utilizing the wind for one’s energy needs—while also becoming more independent. Not receiving an electric bill while enjoying the advantages of the modern electrically-driven lifestyle is a wondrous feeling.
Electric bills and fuel bills are rising steadily—but the cost of wind turbine energy is zero, and the cost of installing and hooking up a turbine is steadily coming down as demand rises and more commercial success is realized by various companies producing the turbines and researching technologies to make them ever more efficient. In addition, people are moving away from the traditional electric grids and the fossil fuels for personal reasons including desire for greater independence, the desire to live remotely or rurally without having to “go primitive”, political concerns such as fears of terrorist strikes on oil fields or power grids, or concerns about the environment. Again, this motivation to get away from the traditional energy sources is the same one that causes people to seek the power of the wind for their energy, giving more business opportunities to profit from wind turbine production and maintenance, which drives their costs down for the consumers. In nearly thirty states at the time of this writing, homeowners who remain on the grid but who still choose to use wind energy (or other alternative forms) are eligible for rebates or tax breaks from the state governments that end up paying for as much as 50% of their total “green” energy systems’ costs. In addition, there are 35 states at the time of this writing where these homeowners are allowed to sell their excess energy back to the power company under what are called “net metering laws”. The rates that they are being paid by the local power companies for this energy are standard retail rates—in other words, the homeowners are actually profiting from their own energy production.
Some federal lawmakers are pushing to get the federal government to mandate these tax breaks and other wind power incentives in all 50 states. Japan and Germany already have national incentive programs in place. However, “A lot of this is handled regionally by state law. There wouldn’t really be a role for the federal government,” the Energy Department’s Craig Stevens says. And as might be imagined, there are power companies who feel that it’s unfair that they should have to pay retail rates to private individuals. “We should [only have to] pay you the wholesale rate for … your electricity,” according to Bruce Bowen, Pacific Gas & Electric’s director of regulatory policy. However, the companies seem to be more worried about losing short term profits than about the benefits, especially in the long run, of the increased use of wind turbines or wind farms. Head of the Center for Energy Efficiency and Renewable Technologies of California V. John White points out, “It’s quality power that strengthens the grid.”