By H Hope
Alternative energy doesn’t just mean solar power and electric cars. It can also come in the form of wind power. Homeowners can even own a small wind power system designed specifically for them. Find out some of the steps involved in the process of getting your own wind energy system and some of the potential problems.
Wind energy has been utilized for hundreds of years. As far back as 2,500 years ago, people were using windmills to grind grain. Later on, they pumped water out of swampy areas and powered sawmills. Now, we’re using wind turbines to generate electricity for homes and businesses.
It isn’t one of the major sources of energy in the country yet, but wind power is rapidly growing in popularity. The American Wind Energy Association states that the wind energy industry is looking to have wind power in 18-20% of American homes by 2010. That is just only a couple of years from now.
Several cities out west have already set up large wind energy farms to supply the local areas with power. Many major businesses even have wind turbines set up to supply power to their buildings. Nothing says you have to live in a desert climate to enjoy wind energy either. An example is the General Motors plant at Tonawanda New York where wind generators are in use now.
Some farmers are generating wind power and growing crops in the same field. Wind turbines are being planted in sugar beet fields in Michigan’s thumb area.
The small town of Bowling Green, Ohio has set up three of its own wind turbines to supply power to the city. They cost a few million dollars, but now residents have the option of purchasing only wind power from the local municipal company and the city has a nice hedge against the larger power grid going out.
Small Wind Energy
Even if your local electric company doesn’t provide you with access to wind power, you can still setup your own small wind energy system. Small wind energy is one of the most affordable alternative energy systems you can set up, coming in even cheaper than Solar Power. It’s possible for a homeowner to set up their own small wind energy system for as little as $3,000, although some systems can cost up to $40,000.
However, some states and even the federal government offers tax credits for those who do set up their own alternative energy system. Plus, you can look around and find companies offering rebates on their systems to help you recoup your investment even faster.
A small wind energy system may not replace all of your electricity useage as the average wind power system has about 25-40% efficiency. The wind is a variable mistress, but she does provide a little extra back up system for those concerned about losing power.
Possible Concerns over Wind Energy
A few concerns have been raised over wind energy that. Beyond the initial cash investment and the fact that wind turbines don’t turn 100% of the time.
Some people have found when they made the move to install their own small energy systems that the local zoning codes had height restrictions which hindered their installation. However, some places have alternative energy ordinances that you can take advantage of to get your building permit. If you haven’t found a loophole of this type in your local city ordinance, you’ll probably need to apply for a special conditional use permit. This means an appearance before the zoning board.
The best ways to prepare to meet with the zoning board is by letting all of your neighbors know what you are planning on doing and knowing your research as well as the type of wind energy system you intend to put up inside and out.
Another concern that has been raised concerning wind energy is a fear that birds will fly into the turbines and be killed. The actual reports of wind turbines killing birds are rare. The American Wind Energy Association states that statistically the average sliding glass door has more chance of killing a bird. Plus, many wind energy builders are working on improving the visibility of their turbines with larger and slower moving blades.
All in all, wind energy is a great alternative system for those looking to lower their electric bill and have a back up system in case the power goes out. It can be affordable for the small wind user and it’s possible to get lots of tax credits and rebates to offset the cost.
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