Tuesday, July 19, 2011

Wind Power – A Viable Alternative Energy Solution

Although initially it is less expensive to get connected onto the local electric company's grid than it is to get set up with wind turbines, over time one can save more money by utilizing the wind for one's energy needs while also becoming more independent by not receiving an electric bill while enjoying the advantages of the modern electrically-driven lifestyle.

Electric and fuel bills are steadily rising, but the cost of wind turbine energy is zero, and the cost of installing and hooking up a turbine is steadily decreasing as demand rises and companies realize more commercial success will come by producing turbines and researching technologies to make them ever more efficient.  In addition, people are moving away from the traditional electric grids and the fossil fuels for personal reasons, including the desire for greater independence, for the ability to live remotely without having to “go primitive”, political concerns such as fear of terrorist strikes on oil fields or power grids, or concerns about the environment.  Again, this motivation to get away from the traditional energy sources is similar to the reasons people are seeking the power of the wind for energy, providing more business opportunities to profit from wind turbine production and maintenance.  This drives down consumer costs. 

In approximately thirty states, homeowners who remain on the grid but still choose to use wind energy (or other alternative forms) are eligible for rebates or tax breaks from the state governments that end up paying for as much as 50% of their total “green” energy systems' costs.  In addition, there are 35 states where these homeowners are allowed to sell their excess energy back to the power company under what is called “Net Metering Laws”.  The rates paid by the local power companies for this energy are standard retail rates; in other words, the homeowners are actually profiting from their own energy production.

Some federal lawmakers are pushing to get the Federal Government to mandate these tax breaks and other wind power incentives in all 50 states.  Japan and Germany already have national incentive programs in place.  However, “A lot of this is handled regionally by state law.  There wouldn't really be a role for the federal government,” the Energy Department's Craig Stevens says.  Also, as might be imagined, there are power companies who feel that it's unfair that they should have to pay retail rates to private individuals.  “We should [only have to] pay you the wholesale rate for ... your electricity,” according to Bruce Bowen, Pacific Gas & Electric's director of regulatory policy.  However, the companies seem to be more worried about losing short term profits than about the benefits, especially in the long run, of increased use of wind turbines or wind farms.  Head of the Center for Energy Efficiency and Renewable Technologies of California V. John White points out, “It's quality power that strengthens the grid.”

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