Are you interested in becoming an organizer in your area?
Tell us about your experience with alternative energy:
I have a wind turbine company in San Francisco.
I installed the first wind turbine in an urban setting in the country in my yard. I am working to bring wind power to the entire bay area and am the only certified Skystream installer in Northern California.
We sell and install small wind turbines that range from 1kwh to 50kwh to residents and business. www.trustinthewind.comwww.entegritywind.com
What excites you about this campaign?
Everything. I love wind, wind power and love doing anything and everything I can to encourage people to take advantage of the endless renewable resource.
Great article in the Chronicle§
You are too low key to post it so I did it on my site and here is a copy.
Happy holidays to you and your family.
Homeowners can harness the wind
Paul Kilduff, Special to The Chronicle
Saturday, December 20, 2008
Chris Beaudoin, with his dog Jet, has two vertical-access... Chris Beaudoin and his dog Jet on the rooftop of his gara...
When it comes to renewable energy, a new wind may literally be blowing on the horizon: a small but growing movement to erect wind turbines on or near urban rooftops.
Once associated with farms and other rural environments, wind turbines are making their way to the city. Although still a tiny industry - the American Wind Energy Association estimates that just 1 percent of the 10,000 turbines purchased annually are of the small rooftop or residential variety - the current interest in wind as a renewable energy resource is undeniable. Celebrities like Jay Leno and Ed Begely Jr. have installed them. Boston's Logan Airport has a set. Even New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg is calling for wind turbines on the city's skyscrapers and bridges.
Closer to home, earlier this year San Francisco Supervisor Tom Ammiano created the Urban Wind Power Task Force to streamline the process of installing small wind turbines. In a city where steady 10 to 12 mph winds - ideal for small wind turbines to produce electricity - are not uncommon, the task force seemed like a no-brainer.
To date the city has signed off on the installation of a few residential turbines: three vertical-access ones (they look like corkscrews) and one horizontal-access model (it resembles a mini version of the turbines dotting the Altamont Pass alongside Interstate-580). Unlike the newer rooftop-mounted vertical-access turbines, horizontal turbines are generally mounted on poles.
In San Francisco, veteran homebuilder Robin Wilson had one installed on a pole as part of a "green" makeover of her Mission District home last year. Wilson's two-unit building, dubbed La Casa Verde, was featured in Sunset magazine as an "idea" home. Her green makeover included the wind turbine, solar panels and a solar water-heating system.
After having the turbine installed, Wilson branched off her construction company and went into the business herself: Her company, Whirligig (a nickname for horizontal turbines), distributes and installs turbines.
"I just fell in love with it," said Wilson of wind power. "I wanted something simple and I wanted something green and something that made me feel excited.
"The beauty of wind power in San Francisco," she added, "is that because we have so much wind, we have the ability to produce power 24 hours a day, where with a solar system we're at like five hours a day" - unless you have the kind of solar panels that track the sun and move with it.
"My turbine has been going like crazy right now, and there's no sun for sure, so my solar system isn't doing anything. Wind is a greater resource," she said.
Where's the wind?
Just how much wind San Francisco has is being researched right now - and how to determine whether a home is in a windy enough area to warrant a turbine is under debate. Wilson, whose clients are mostly outside of San Francisco, says: "There is data available from a variety of sources. We work with companies whose engineers do in-depth wind modeling for our locations. They pull this information from a variety of wind databases, including NASA wind readings." She also uses information from Web sites maintained by the California Energy Commission and the U.S. Department of Energy.
Meanwhile, San Francisco is in the process of compiling data from 27 wind-monitoring stations, complete with anemometers (a device that measures wind), throughout the city. This wind map, expected to be completed next year, will appear online; residents will be able to plug in their address and get wind data for their immediate area.
According to Johanna Partin, a member of the San Francisco Department of Environment's wind task force, the next step in determining whether to install a wind turbine is to test the wind on your own rooftop with an anemometer for six months to a year.
"People don't have money to blow, especially right now, on a device that may not give you the output that you need to make it a worthwhile investment," Partin said. "So if you really want to make a sound investment, then you're going to have to be willing to wait the six to 12 months it takes to test what your wind resource is."
Wilson, who also serves on the city task force, counters that the only real way to determine a home's wind-producing potential is through an on-site inspection, in which factors such as wind breaks (like nearby buildings) and the direction of the wind will be taken into account.
However, Craig Nikitas, the city Planning Department's senior planner who grants permits for residential turbines, said that with San Francisco's micro-climates and local topographical issues, testing is imperative: "The city wants to know what the real situation is," Nikitas said.
Another issue with turbines, especially the horizontal ones, is that birds and bats have been known to fly into the propellers.
"When they spin very fast you can see through them. That's why birds tend to fly into them," Partin said. "The vertical-access ones, when they spin, they look like a solid object," so there aren't as many concerns about wildlife. Wilson's turbine hasn't killed any birds, but as part of her permit from the city, she and the owner of a newly permitted horizontal-access turbine are required to let the city know "about any flying animal collisions," Nikitas said.
Because they are not rooftop mounted, horizontal-access turbines have to go through a 30-day public comment period before they are approved. This allows neighbors living nearby to voice concerns about noise, vibration, aesthetics or other issues. Turbines can generate a hum and some vibration, but whether it's enough to annoy neighbors is anyone's guess.
The alternative to the more established horizontal turbine is the vertical-access one championed locally by Bernal Heights resident Todd Pelman. His company, Blue Green Pacific, installed the first residential wind turbine in San Francisco last year. Since then, he's installed two more of the company's prototype vertical-access turbines on the home of Chris Beaudoin in the city's Castro district. Pelman is developing the next generation of his company's turbine.
A mechanical engineer, he spent the majority of his career with IDEO - a German product design firm that contracts with BMW, Airbus, GM, Pepsi, McDonald's and other Fortune 500 companies. After moving to San Francisco's notoriously windy Bernal Heights district, he happened on the idea of harnessing the wind in his neighborhood to generate electricity. Pelman differs with Wilson on the best turbine design for San Francisco and other urban environments. He also sees the devices as more of a supplement to one's energy needs. Unlike many of the turbines Wilson carries that can potentially produce all of a home's electricity, Pelman's turbines are designed to produce about 20 percent of a typical home's needs. They also cost roughly $5,000 - far less than the ones Wilson installs, which start at about $20,000.
With all the conflicting information on home wind turbines, it's easy to become confused as to the right one to install, but Partin takes the long view: "Solar is not easy, but it's easier than it was five years ago. We're hoping micro-wind is going to be in the same place five years from now, where if you want to do it, you know how to do it."
Things to consider
Before putting up a wind turbine, consider this:
How big a turbine should you get? It depends on how much electricity you use and what you want to accomplish. The average PG&E customer uses between 6,000 and 12,000 kilowatt (kW) hours annually in San Francisco. A turbine rated at 2.5 kilowatts with winds of 12 mph should produce about 500 kilowatt hours per month (6,000 kilowatts a year) or close to 100 percent of an average household's needs.
Your wind resource. The ideal wind speed for a home turbine is 10 to 12 mph. You can test this yourself by putting an anemometer on your roof.
Guarantees. While no one can guarantee exactly the amount of wind your home will experience, turbine manufacturers will guarantee that your turbine will produce a certain amount of electricity given the proper amount of wind. They can make this claim because wind turbines have censors that track the amount of wind they're taking in.
Height. With wind turbines, the higher they're placed the better. Since most communities have building height restrictions, it's important to check what is allowed in your community.
Rebates. The California Energy Commission's Emerging Renewables Program offers a rebate of $2.50 a watt for turbines that are rated to produce less than 7.5 kilowatts. There is also a federal tax rebate on qualified turbines installed until the end of 2016.
Costs. The Blue Green Pacific vertical-access turbine, designed to offset 20 percent of the typical household's electric needs, will sell for less than $5,000. Systems sold by Whirligig that will produce 1.5 to 50 kilowatts range from $15,000 to $135,000.
- Paul Kilduff
For more information on home wind turbines, go to the American Wind Energy Association's Web site at www.awea.org.
I love your turbine - totally jealous - :)
Please visit www.FAREnergy.org - The Florida Alliance for Renewable Energy would like to make Florida a leader in solar energy. Since 1991, Germany, Spain, Denmark, and over 40 other nations, states, and provinces, have pioneered legislation that have proven to promote the fastest, cheapest, and widest growth of renewable energy. In many of these countries these policies are called "Feed-In Tariffs" (FITs). Producers of renewable energy are paid a premium rate or "tariff" for each kilowatt of energy they "feed into" the grid. Here in North America FITs are being called, "Renewable Energy Payments" (REPs). The name has changed but the fundamental principles of these policies stay the same:
Everyone who produces renewable energy is guaranteed that they can connect to the power grid and sell their energy to their utility company. There is no limit to the amount of renewable energy that can be sold to utility companies.
Utility companies sign 15-20 year contracts with all their renewable energy producers. All contracts are transparent and open for inspection.
The contracts include long-term agreed upon prices that the utility companies will pay for the energy they buy. The prices are set high enough to be an incentive to new producers and for existing producers to expand their production capacities. Prices vary according to the source of the energy (i.e, sun, wind, water, bio-mass, etc.) and the size of the energy-producing installation.
The utility companies can recoup their increased costs of paying higher prices for renewable energy by spreading these costs among all their customers.
An Independent Review Board is established by the government that periodically sets the prices and terms for new contracts.
How do REPs work?
Renewable Energy Payments are the mechanisms or instruments at the heart of specific state, provincial or national renewable energy policies. REPs are incentives for homeowners, farmers, businesses, etc., to become producers of renewable energy, or to increase their production of renewable energy. As such, they increase our overall production and use of renewable energy, and decrease our consumption and burning of fossil fuels.
Thank you! Happy Holidays!
Faye Roller - Administartive Director
Florida Alliance for Renewable Energy
Isnt that house similar to sectional homes, pre-manufactured by a company out there in Cali? I saw a deal on the History Channel about it. A large portion of the house is made with recycled materials right? I want one it takes a few hours to put it together but dang! By the way, gotta figure out a way to get one of your wind turbines here in D/FW.