Is Trend Towards Residential Renewable Energy Production a Good Thing?


With state and federal governments implementing policies to support residential renewable energy production (such as this program in San Diego), Green Inc. takes a quick survey of the current state of private energy production, and questions whether it is even worth it:

“Buying a small wind turbine to power a home can be costly – in the range of $12,000 to $70,000 (including installation fees), according to Ron Stimmel, the small wind expert at the American Wind Energy Association.

“Altogether, says Mr. Stimmel, some kind of financial incentive for residential small wind is available in about 17 states, though in some cases the incentives are offered through utilities rather than directly by the state itself. (In Colorado, for example, a handful of utilities are offering rebates, which go up to $10,000.)

“The federal government has jumped in, too. Last year’s big bailout bill included a 30 percent tax credit for homeowners who put in a small wind turbine…

“But is small wind even a good idea? When tiny turbines are situated on city rooftops, the economic benefits are questionable. Last year a Massachusetts state agency in charge of renewable-energy development suspended its rebate program for small wind installations across the state due to inadequate performance. A summary of the problems stated that:

The average production for the 19 existing small wind turbines highlighted in the progress briefing is less than one-third of the average production projected by installers, with a range of ratios varying from 2 percent to 59 percent of estimated production.”

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