The image of a tiny windmill ferociously whipping its blades through the Eastern Oregon wind might seem nostalgic, but the Energy Trust of Oregon wants it to be the way of the future.
But these won’t be your grandma’s water-pumping windmills, or the behemoths popping up across the region on massive wind farms. The trust has new financial incentives for landowners who use Pacific Power and want to install small wind turbines to power their entire property.
The ETO points to rural homeowners, farmers and ranchers as people who benefit most from small wind turbines. Susan Badger-Jones, ETO Northeast Oregon Outreach Coordinator, argues that small wind turbines would be especially useful for landowners in Eastern Oregon.
“The wind blows here,” Badger-Jones said of northeastern Oregon. “So not only is the resource here, but small wind mills are part of the historic landscape. These small systems directly benefit the individual, so I think it also appeals to the self-sufficiency of rural people.”
Incentives for small wind turbines, which the ETO defines as turbines running on less than 100 kilowatts, are based on the amount of energy produced each year. Owners will earn $5 per kW produced by their wind turbine up to 9,500 kW. Anything over 9,500 kW, and owners will receive $1.75 per kW. Previously, incentives for small wind turbines were based on the size of the turbine, rather than the amount of energy produced.
According to Chris Dearth, ETO renewable energy project manager, property owners in northeast Oregon must have at least one acre of land, use Pacific Power and be willing to install an eligible wind turbine. ETO’s list of eligible wind turbines can be found on their website.
Although the initial cost of a turbine can be anywhere from $20,000 to $200,000, the ETO incentives combined with federal tax credits cover 60-90 percent of the costs.
The ETO has yet to partner with a completed small wind turbine project using the new incentives, which began on May 1, although the previous incentives were utilized by about 30 Oregon property owners. Dearth said this isn’t so much because of a lack of interest, but because the projects take up to a year to complete.
Even with the previous incentives, there are no small wind turbine projects in northeast Oregon that ETO has partnered with, something Dearth hopes will change.
“The wind resource in this area is generally very good, and this customer base is rural,” Dearth said. “So we would love to see people in this service area take advantage of these incentives.”
In order to reach out to more people interested in the incentive, ETO is developing an online map that allows Oregonians to type in their address and find out about the wind resource in their area. The website, which does not have an address yet, will be up in a few weeks.
For more information about small wind turbines, email Badger-Jones at email@example.com or visit www.energytrust.org/residential/incentives/small-wind.
This story originally appeared in East Oregonian.
Hire Electric is the primary (maybe the only) Energy Trust of Oregon Small Wind Trade Ally currently promoting small wind in Eastern Oregon. We’d be very excited to help you with your energy independence goals. Come find out more at our upcoming seminar in Pendleton on December 6, 2012.