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Thursday, February 19, 2009

Stimulus Tax Credits Help Wind Power Big and Small

The excuse we get in South Dakota for not developing wind power sooner is the lack of big transmission lines to carry the huge amounts of electrivity our prairie winds can generate to the big-city power markets. My response has generally been that we should focus on building small wind farms and single-dwelling turbines to power our local needs first, then worry about exporting. power.

The stimulus law may help with both. President Obama's signature Tuesday extended the production tax credit for wind energy through 2012, which will help the industry do a little more long-term planning and investment. The Department of Energy is also directed to study the electrical grid and make recommendations for expanding access to renewable power sources. On the home front, the stimulus law extends a 30% tax credit for residential renewable energy systems, including wind turbines, solar panels, geothermal units, and fuel cells. (Read more from Kevin Eber, Department of Energy, "Clean Energy Aspects of the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act," RenewableEnergyWorld.com, 2009.02.18.)

Now you still have to spend green to get green. The rooftop Swift Wind Turbine and Energy Ball featured in Saturday's NYTimes cost $10K–$12K to purchase and install, and you might have to haggle with Zoning Officer Deb Reinicke to get the county to let you put up a 30-plus-foot tower to catch better wind. But the Swift runs at 35 decibels, which addresses some of the noise concerns over big turbines and, as one owner reports, is less noisy than the groaning in the wind of the barn he installed the turbine on.

If some Republican governors want to give back their stimulus money, great: all the more for the rest of us to invest in energy independence.


  1. Here's another item of local interest regarding the stimulus package. First time homebuyers and homeowners who have not purchased or owned a home within the past three years can receive $8000 simply for purchasing a home in 2009. That's no small potatoes! Around here, if you purchase a home, $8000 will buy a lot of appliances and furniture. This is a one-year offer, so those who are sitting on the fence should jump off and get to a bank or credit union. SD Housing loans also qualify and have the best interest rate for first time buyer.

  2. We cannot not wait for our industry-captured PUC to ever do the right thing for consumers. That said, we need net metering now. Not the constipated net metering the PUC wants to give us, but net metering that will encourage energy self-reliance - like Minnesota has, or is offered by some utilities in Wyoming. (If the PUC really believes in the free market, then free up the market and let consumers find any utility in the US that will buy their excess power. It would be great to have one national net metering standard that would encourage self-reliance, personal energy production, and buy-backs into the grid.

    Cory, look at the Canuks home and small business wind turbine. These can go up in the most crowded urban / suburban environment. http://www.enviro-energies.com/ . Cinch your helmet chin strap tight, adjust your goggles and watch the video. These turbines are as intrusive as a television antennae.

    Makes one wonder just what the heck they do at our two engineering schools?!

  3. Vertical axis maglev wind turbine? Awesome! And Ed Begley Jr. digs it: it must be cool!

  4. Yeah, very cool - but Jay's is bigger than Ed's. http://www.treehugger.com/files/2009/01/jay-leno-and-ed-begley-jr-talk-wind-turbines-video.php.

  5. The vertical axis maglev wind turbine not only looks cool, but the 1.5-kilowatt model has a reasonable price tag.


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