Powering your home with wind energy
Pavilion's Steve Rigoni is the subject of an article in today's Buffalo News. Rigoni is a cash crop farmer, descendent of three generations of upstate dairy farmers, who has been featured in a pair of videos on The Batavian for his construction of a corn dryer that is fueled by switchgrass rather than propane. (If you haven't seen either of those videos yet, please check them out. It's pretty remarkable what Rigoni put together... from scratch.)
In the Buffalo News piece, Rigoni is in the spotlight again for his allegiance to alternative energies—this time, for mounting a windmill outside his home. From that article:
It’s easy to spot Steve Rigoni’s place in Pavilion — just look for the wind turbine spinning high above his house.
“I look at it as my midlife thing,” Rigoni said. “Some people get a Corvette, or a new woman — I got a windmill.”
His 10-kilowatt Bergey Windpower rig is hardly a wanton spree, however. While it cost him $25,000, after state incentives, it has nearly wiped out electric bills that used to average $120 to $140 a month.
Reporter Fred O. Williams calls it "wind power to the people."
For Rigoni, converting to wind power was as much a labor of love, he said, as it was about economics. A proponent of alternative energy, he also heats his home partly with wood, and burns switchgrass instead of propane to dry corn for his farming operation.
But the wind turbine pays its way. For the last two years, it has pumped out about 800 kilowatt-hours a month, powering Rigoni’s washer, dryer, water heater, fridge and lights.
When the wind is blowing but the appliances aren’t on, the turbine spins his electric meter backward, generating a small credit toward future energy use.
“We don’t ever make much money on it,” he said.
It turns out that the Great Lakes region is "a prime wind-resource area," especially in the colder months, which would be good news for folks like us who max out our energy bills come January and February. But is it really worth it?
Does small wind save money? The rule of thumb is that a well-located turbine with an average wind speed of 12 mph and with 10-kilowatt capacity can generate about 1,000 kilowatt- hours a month, or enough to power a typical home — not counting heating or air-conditioning. Whether that will break even over the 20-year life of a turbine depends on current and future electricity rates. Utility rates of 10 cents per kilowatt-hour begin to make the cost of wind attractive.
Wind power economics just got a push from Congress. The financial bailout package enacted in October included a tax credit of up to $4,000 for small wind systems.
So, would you do it?