Residential Wind Power Generation: Laws and Rebates

In 1985, the U.S. reached the 1,000 Megawatt mark for wind energy. It reached 2,000 MW in 1999. By April 2009, however, it reaches 28,635 MW, enough to power 6.5 million homes. Residential wind power is a booming new industry in the United States.

Department Of Energy Sets Goals For Wind Power

The Department of Energy wants 20% wind by 2030. States and local governments across the country are setting renewable energy goals, such as Oregon’s 20% by 2020. In order to reach these goals economically, the government has created incentives for businesses and individuals who invest in wind energy. In addition, utilities, who are ultimately responsible for realizing renewable energy goals, have their own incentive programs to encourage their customers to invest.

Public Utility Regulatory Policies Act of 1978

An existing law that applies to wind energy is the Public Utility Regulatory Policies Act of 1978 (PURPA), which requires utilities to purchase power from small wind energy systems. This means that, an individual with a residential wind turbine on their property or a business with a couple commercial wind turbines, their utility is federally required to buy any excess energy produced by those turbines and sent back into the grid.

Net-metering is the most common way that utilities comply with PURPA. In order to be eligible for net-metering, you’ll need to set up an interconnection agreement with your utility company. If they’ve never made an interconnection agreement before, you may be required to work with the company to draft the pioneering agreement. Once in place, the agreement allows your meter to run forwards, selling you home electricity when it’s needed, and also backwards, buying your excess power generated from your wind turbine.

American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009

The American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009, which President Obama signed in February, removes cost caps on renewable energy rebates. The rebate offers a tax credit on renewable energy investments for individuals of 30% of your total investment. A tax credit rebate isn’t like a standard deduction – it’s cash back that goes directly in your pocket.

Utilities, state governments, and local agencies offer rebates, loans, and resources for households investing in wind power. Low-interest loans to cover installation costs may be offered, and cash rebates on a percentage of your investment are also common. Local and utility incentives range widely by location, and are generally on a first come, first serve basis. Some have a fixed fund from which to draw from, which can work to the advantage of early investors, as residential wind energy is still an emerging market.

Another opportunity is renewable energy green credits, or RECs. Programs such as Green Tags, a program for wind energy in Washington, Oregon, Idaho, and Montana, pay producers in credits based on the amount of energy they put into the grid. The credits can then be sold to companies working to lower their carbon footprint or reduce their emissions levels.

Governments and energy utilities are committed to increasing the amount of renewable energy supplying our homes with power. Pioneering investors in wind energy have the opportunity to take advantage of multiple rebates, tax credits, low interest loans, green credits, and even cash payments that have been set in place to meet renewable energy goals.

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