Environmental Cost of Windmills

Windmills are becoming popular in some areas. Constructing your own windmill to generate energy may sound like folly or something only Don Quixote would conceive; but think again, many are investing in this earth friendly venture.

The mad hero of Cervantes’s novel mistakes windmills for giants and flails away only to be caught up by one of the sails and thrashed. That’s fiction but today’s heroic tales of chivalry concern another lady in distress, mother nature, and windmills, solar energy, and energy from the ocean combine forces to see who can rescue her first.

That’s a fact. In a report from Herald Times Reporter, a Wisconsin paper, Ann Sundberg tells of one such venture where one man purchased his own windmill and installed it himself. By study and experimenting he learned if he truly wanted his windmill to work he would not be able to build it, so he purchased one. His 100 ft. structure has been in operation about two months. Maybe longer, He no longer has a $200 dollar monthly energy bill. It costs $31,000 to build. It would have cost more but he did his own installation.

If the wind blows at 25 miles an hour, he will get 20 watts, or 20,000 kilowatts, its peak output. No matter how fast the wind, this is the maximum output. If there’s no wind, there’s no energy. An eight mile an hour minimum is a must for the wind sales to move, or at least move enough to generate electricity.

This kind of setup benefits not only the owner, but the local economy and the environment. The excess energy, beyond a specified amount, in this case 20 kilowatts in capacity, goes to the local utility grid for its customers. The power grid sells him back any electricity produced above the allotted amount at a whole sale rate.

If there’s reserve the owner gets credited. This is how on days when the wind is still, this ingenious homeowner will still have electricity. Even if he should need extra energy it will be purchased at a lower rate. At about three cents a kilowatt instead of the retail price of 8.4 cents.

How did he know how to pursue his dream of his own windmill? He learned by studying and reading about it for two years and by building a small scale model that worked. His is a “Jacob Wind Energy System that he purchased from Bay Winds, in Green Bay, a dealer for Wind Turbine Industries Group, Prior Lake, Minnesota.

It creates no disturbance, only a little blustering sound on a windy day. Neighbors don’t mind that. There is some maintenance; the bolts will need be greased once a year and just routine checks now and then. That, of course should be nothing for this enterprising man dug the footers for this three winged creature to stand in, and did all the wiring. The wings, the author tells us, are the shape of air plane wings.

He takes saving the earth seriously. He has been involved in other energy saving methods such as using only compact florescent light bulbs. These use 66 percent less energy and last about ten times longer over incandescent lighting.

The above facts lead me to believe that this man is on no delusional journey and knows that it’s an ill wind indeed that does not bring with it some rewards. More power to him.

Source: Sundburg, Anne, “Local Installs Windmill to Save Cost”, Herald Times Reporter, Wisconsin, http://www.baywinds.com