Red Hot wind…

Timlynn Babitsky | Issues: Strategies & Tactics,Too Darn Tall! | Tuesday, June 10th, 2008

by Timlynn Babitsky
Huge wind turbines are easy to find now across the U S. But smaller residential wind generators, a bit less easy to find, are also appearing across the US landscape. Small Wind is now considered a “tiny but red-hot market.” And about 45 US manufacturers are producing systems to service the small wind market here and abroad. In rural, suburban and even urban areas “small wind” is catching on.

“At least 26 states have tax or productivity incentives or other subsidies to support wind energy,” notes Trudy Forsyth, program leader at NREL’s distributed wind program in Golden, Colorado. “But strong growth is happening even without the federal tax incentives enjoyed by solar panels and big utility-scale wind turbines.”

So why haven’t I seen any of these small wind systems? You ask. I travel around a lot and I have yet seen a single small wind system!

Cost, lack of support, NIMBY, and bird issues, have kept residential wind-power to a slow growth level. Zoning has always been an issue, and resistors to residential wind power are increasing pressure for even tighter zoning battles.

If a Small Wind project is what you are after, you need to rally support early from your friends, neighbors, and local stakeholders. Make sure you do your homework. Understand your zoning laws and get legal help early. Do all you can to engage your utility company in a net metering relationship (make sure that net metering is an option before you even start !). And check out the newest in residential turbine designs.

Southwest Windpower, the largest US small-wind manufacturer, has a new small 1.8 kilowatt Skystream turbine that is aimed at the residential market. It is so quiet and unobtrusive that even San Francisco Mayor Gavin Newsom is now forming a group to explore using small wind systems throughout the city.

Click here for more on the hot-market of Small Wind.

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