In the spring of 2009, College of the Atlantic offered a wind power course: ' A Practicum in Wind Power". In this class students learned about wind power and worked to install a wind turbine at Beech Hill Farm. The turbine is a Skystream 3.7, a small 2,400-watt generator which is built for grid-tie systems. This unit was one of the most expensive projects we took on, coming near $18,000 (before state and federal rebates). This height, just under 40', is restricted due to zoning in the area--and our results reflect this loss in efficiency. Cost and Payback
- The total installation cost of the project was roughly $18,000.00.
- State and federal tax incentives and rebates the on a project of this size amount to $7400 bringing the total cost of the project to $10,600.
- The total average yearly energy production for the turbine is 2223kWh or about half of the house electricity load.
- This is $378 savings in electricity costs per year ($0.17/kWh).
- Wind turbine will pay for itself in 31 years, which is beyond the lifespan of the turbine.
- Had the turbine been on a taller tower and located for maximum performance, it in theory is capable of producing 6000kWh per month, which would provide a payback time of 10.4 years.
In terms of the energy demonstration project for the farm, cost numbers and installation information about the wind turbine is very instructive. Installing the wind turbine was a good learning experience, the knowledge gained by the community as to the need for proper planning and good ordinances was invaluable. The project spurred extensive conversation about the role residential wind power could have for the wider community and how that would compare, from both an esthetic and energy generation perspective, with a ‘big’ wind approach.
However, even with the dismal power production of the turbine, it was an excellent learning tool. Not only did students who took the class get to learn first hand about wind power but everyone, community members, COA students and decision makers are getting a first had look at what happens when ordinances restrict turbine height.