Small wind turbines may help property owners with electricity bill
By: By Chuck Quirmbach, Wisconsin Public Radio, Superior Telegram
The growth of large-scale wind power projects has slowed in Wisconsin. But some people are helping individual landowners put up wind turbines.
Some cities don't allow landowners to put up the typically 100-140 foot-tall wind turbines that would help power the owner’s household. But in primarily rural parts of the state, some residential wind towers are going up.
Chris Folk teaches renewable energy at the Madison Area Technical College and the Midwest Renewable Energy Association. He says the open areas of farms — away from trees and silos — can be good sites, as can some locations next to big bodies of water.
“The wind is created by the sun, and so if we heat up and cool down these huge masses of water, that causes the wind to move,” Folk said. “On the eastern side of Lake Winnebago there’s several turbines put up. There also happens to be a natural rise: the Niagara Escarpment.”
Folk recommends property owners pay for a siting assessment if they are really interested in adding a wind turbine. He also says people with relatively low electricity bills probably should not add wind, due to the long time it takes to recoup the cost of a turbine. He says those folks may want to instead choose a small and cheaper solar power system, if they are focused on reducing their use of fossil fuels.