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Scaled to size: New residential wind turbines headed for market

Next month, an Arizona developer will start selling a residential-scale turbine that is expected to cost $10,000 or less, installed — a price significantly lower than turbines on the market now, which range as high as $22,000.

Residential Wind Turbine

The lack of large-scale windfarms in Vermont may no longer be an impediment to those who want to power their homes or farms with wind.

Next month, an Arizona developer will start selling a residential-scale turbine that is expected to cost $10,000 or less, installed — a price significantly lower than turbines on the market now, which range as high as $22,000.

Southwest Windpower predicts their new Skystream 3.7 turbine could pay for itself in five to 12 years, depending on state rebates, saving the average homeowner $500 to $800 a year on utility costs.

Skystream, which will hit the markets in August, is the first wind generator designed specifically for residential users connected to the grid, according to Andy Kruse, co-founder of the Flagstaff-based Southwest Windpower.

The company has been in business for about 20 years, Kruse told the Vermont Guardian, selling their turbines, often in combination with a solar system, mostly to off-the-grid customers who use them to charge batteries to power their homes.

About 60 percent of the company’s business has been abroad, mostly in Canada, Kruse said. But he expects Skystream could change that.

“Skystream will change the way many Americans... more [truncated due to possible copyright]  

 Residential Wind Turbine

The lack of large-scale windfarms in Vermont may no longer be an impediment to those who want to power their homes or farms with wind.

Next month, an Arizona developer will start selling a residential-scale turbine that is expected to cost $10,000 or less, installed — a price significantly lower than turbines on the market now, which range as high as $22,000.

Southwest Windpower predicts their new Skystream 3.7 turbine could pay for itself in five to 12 years, depending on state rebates, saving the average homeowner $500 to $800 a year on utility costs.

Skystream, which will hit the markets in August, is the first wind generator designed specifically for residential users connected to the grid, according to Andy Kruse, co-founder of the Flagstaff-based Southwest Windpower.

The company has been in business for about 20 years, Kruse told the Vermont Guardian, selling their turbines, often in combination with a solar system, mostly to off-the-grid customers who use them to charge batteries to power their homes.

About 60 percent of the company’s business has been abroad, mostly in Canada, Kruse said. But he expects Skystream could change that.

“Skystream will change the way many Americans power their homes and take control of their energy costs,” said Kruse in a press release announcing the new model. “Wind energy for the individual homeowner is finally mainstream.”

Kruse said he expects the unit to have an average lifespan of 20 years, and with an installation cost of $7,000 to $10,000 including a tower of up to 35 feet, electricity would cost 8 to 12 cents per kilowatt hour (kWh), and generate up to 70 percent of an average home’s electrical needs.

Homes use approximately 9,400 kWh of electricity per year, or about 780 kWh per month, according to the American Wind Energy Association.

“If Southwest Windpower’s plan works, homeowners one day could buy their very own windmill at a local Home Depot for $5,000, get a contractor to install the contraption in a back yard and — presto — customers would get clean-burning and free electricity to power air-conditioners, televisions, lights, refrigerators and more,” gushed the Boston Herald in a July 5 story.

One Vermont distributor, who asked not to be named, said she expects considerable interest in the Skystream when it hits the market next month.

“I would say there’s a lot of interest because this one is really easy; they’re calling it an appliance. That gives on the impression they can plug it in and go, which is not entirely true — installation and tower height play into the ultimate installation costs — but I think there will be a lot of interest because it’s a 1.8 kilowatt turbine. They priced it fairly low because they want it to be affordable, and the payback is five to 12 years” depending on state subsidies, she said.

Andrew Perchlik of Renewable Energy Vermont said although the state’s solar subsidies have been exhausted, incentives are available for wind generation systems.

The Skystream will beat to the market by about a year several Vermont-made models in development by Earth Turbines. The Hinesburg company is expected to roll out their new turbine by late 2007, said chief operating officer Lawrence Mott. It will be heavier and more costly that Southwest’s, he said, but also built to last 25 to 30 years.

Mott, who, like his Earth Turbines partner, NRG Systems founder David Blittersdorf, has several decades’ experience in the business, said the company walks their customers through the Vermont permitting process. Anyone who erects a turbine in the Green Mountain State must obtain a certificate of public good from the Vermont Public Service Board.

“That’s part of the service I offer,” Mott said. “My whole idea is that most people want to learn about it and have it happen; I fill out the application for them, hold their hands through it, and provide technical expertise.”

Vermont laws and incentives

Net metering: The Legislature enacted the state’s net metering law in 1998 and amended it in 1999. It covers solar, wind, and fuel cells using renewable fuel up to 15 kW. Net metering is available to all residential, commercial, and agricultural customers on a first come, first served basis up to an overall capacity limit of 1 percent of each utility’s 1996 electric demand.

Any net excess generation (NEG) is credited to the following month; at the end of a year, any unused credits are granted to the utility without compensation.

Sales tax exemption: Vermont exempts from sales tax solar-electric (PV) systems, wind systems, anaerobic digesters, and fuel cells fueled by renewable resources. Agriculture systems with a maximum capacity of 150 kilowatts are eligible for the exemption, while other eligible technologies are limited to a system capacity of 15 kW.

Direct loan program: The state offers below-market loans for commercial and industrial entities to support land purchases, construction, and the purchase and installation of energy efficient machinery and equipment, including improved insulation, duct work, and appliances. The maximum amount is $800,000 for land and buildings, and $500,000 for equipment and machinery, not to exceed 40 percent of the cost of the project.

 


Source: http://www.vermontguardian....

JUL 15 2006
https://www.windaction.org/posts/3518-scaled-to-size-new-residential-wind-turbines-headed-for-market
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