Residential Wind Energy: Will I Still Need My Power Company?

Except for installations in remote locations, residential wind power systems are "on-grid" systems. The home is connected both to the turbine and to the local electric company's grid. At windspeeds of 10 mph and above, the turbine generates the energy used by the home. Below this "cut-in speed," energy is purchased from the electric utility. This process is transparent to the homeowner in most cases.

Under the Public Utility Regulatory Policies Act of 1978 (PURPA), the electric utility is required to connect with and to purchase energy from small wind systems, defined as those with a power-generating capacity of 80 MW and below. The homeowner negotiates an interconnection agreement with the power utility, allowing for the flow of energy to be monitored in both directions. This can be measured in one of two ways:

- With the use of a smart meter, that can run both forward and backward. In this scenario, the meter essentially adds up your electric bill when power is being drawn from the grid, and subtracts the price per kWh when excess energy is being fed into the grid.

- With a separate meter that records the amount of energy produced by the residential wind turbine. At the end of the billing period, energy produced is subtracted from energy purchased to calculate charges.

It is perfectly possible via both methods for the electric company to owe you money at the end of the billing period.

Many small electric utilities have never been put in the position of negotiating an interconnection agreement. This is an instance when working with a professional turbine installer can be beneficial. The company will understand all the applicable laws and can help to facilitate both the agreement and the installation of the necessary meter. The turbine itself can be easily retrofitted into almost any home with no change to the household wiring, but you will not receive maximum benefit from the system without the proper metering.

Off-grid systems do not have this problem as there is no connection with the electric utility's grid. Excess energy is stored in deep-charge batteries to be used when the turbine is not producing sufficient power. Most off-grid systems also include a fuel-powered, back-up generator to ensure that the home has power at all times or to be used for intermittent, high-energy consumption tasks that would drain the batteries.

Once homeowners understand the interconnection arrangement with the local power utility, their next logical question is, "How much power will my turbine produce?" Continue reading to learn more about what to reasonably expect from a residential wind system.

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One Response to “Residential Wind Energy: Will I Still Need My Power Company?”

  1. How Much Does A Wind Turbine Cost? Says:

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