Consumer-Scale Wind Generators Gain Popularity

John Davis

With utility rates rising… and expected to get even higher… it’s no wonder people are looking at generating their own electricity.

This story from the Wall Street Journal’s Market Watch says backyard wind power generators are growing in popularity, despite their sometimes hefty price tag:

“They are definitely growing [in popularity],” says Ron Stimmel of the AWEA, the national trade association for the wind energy industry. Sales of turbines that generate 2 kilowatts to 10 kilowatts of electricity, the smallest category of turbine and the ones most likely to be in residential use, have been rising nearly 25% annually, he said.

The rising cost of electricity has been driving wind-turbine sales. Homeowners in an area of high winds with a properly sited turbine can shave up to 80% off their monthly electricity bills, industry experts say.

Some wind turbines can cost anywhere from $12,000 – $50,000, which, even if they save homeowners 80 percent of their electricity costs (as some do), it can take some time to recoup their costs. Some state governments are helping people get back some of that money to encourage the growth of the home-scale wind farms. The article points out, for example, in New York, homeowners can get back as much as 40 percent of the start-up costs… two-thirds of the money upfront to help buy the system and the rest when it is connected to the power grid.