Wind power wants a place on your roof, too

October 29, 2008

Putting solar panels on your roof may be all the rage in California, but what’s a green homeowner to do in less sundrenched parts of North America?

How about powering your home or business with wind, for starters. And no, that doesn’t mean planting a 100-foot-tall wind tower in your backyard.

This week, Grand Rapids, Michigan-based Cascade Engineering launched a wind turbine aimed at residential and business customers. According to Jessica Lehti, the company’s senior sales and marketing manager, the Swift Wind Turbine is as soft as a whisper and fits on the side of buildings, making it “more zoning compliant” for urban and suburban settings.

The drawback for most of us will unfortunately be the product’s cost. The Swift turbine carries a price tag of $10,000, including installation, and is unlikely to rid you of your utility bill entirely.

“It’s really a supplemental system,” Lehti said, adding that it would provide about one-fifth of an average American home’s energy needs. For more conservation-conscious customers, that could go up to about 40 percent.

Depending on state tax incentives, regional electricity rates and the average wind speed at its location, it could take anywhere from 3 years to 40 years for the turbine to pay for itself, Lehti said.

The good news? A federal tax incentive that will go into effect in January could give residential customers a $1,000 credit per system, with commercial customers getting up to a $4,000 credit, Cascade said. Those tax breaks should help the small wind turbine market grow between 18 percent and 20 percent through 2010, according to the American Wind Energy Association.

The turbine went on sale on Monday, and there is already a backlog of orders, Lehti said, mostly from business customers. The company expects the backlog to be cleared by February as it ramps up production.

The Swift turbine was developed by Scotland’s Renewable Devices. The product has been available in the United Kingdom for a few years.

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Wind power wants place on your roof, how can this possible.

Right now the cost of wind turbines are still expensive, but there are a lot of turbines! As more and more are built, the cost in production will go down!