Community Owned

Traverse City, MI: Community Wind Project

Traverse City, Michigan was the first municipal utility in the state to install a utility scale turbine in 1996.

Excerpt for this case study from the Michigan Energy Office.

Traverse City Light & Power Wind Generator

In June 1996, Traverse City Light & Power dedicated the first utility scale wind turbine generator in Michigan. The wind turbine is a Vestas model V-44, 600 kW generator and has a blade diameter of 144 ft. on a 160 ft. tower. The wind turbine has a variable blade pitch mechanism which can capture the most energy from winds. In average annual winds of between 14-15 mph the annual production from the wind turbine is estimated between 1.1-1.2 million kWh's which is enough electricity for approximately 200 average Traverse City homes. The capital cost of approximately $650,000 was partially funded by a $50,000 grant from the State of Michigan and the U.S. Dept. of Energy's State Energy Program.

Mackinaw City, MI: Community Wind Project

Mackinaw City's Wind Turbines

In 2001, Mackinaw City leased Village-owned land for the construction of two wind turbines by a private developer. Along with generating energy, the turbines are currently used to train new professional wind turbine technicians from Michigan’s Kalamazoo Valley Community College as part of their curriculum.

Read more about this project on the Mackinaw City web site. 

What is community wind?

Community wind projects are locally owned or initiated by farmers, investors, businesses, schools, utilities, or other public or private entities and they optimize local benefits. The key feature is that local community members have a significant, direct financial stake in the project beyond land lease payments and tax revenue. Projects may be used for on-site power or to generate wholesale power for sale, usually on a scale greater than 100 kW.

If you are interested in starting a community wind project, we encourage you to use our Community Wind Toolbox to help guide you along the process.

Wind Project Calculator

Windustry Wind Project Calculator

The Windustry Wind Project Calculator was designed by Alice Orrell, Alice Orrell Consulting, and Windustry for the Community Wind Toolbox.

The Wind Project Calculator was developed to assist in performing cash flow modeling for community wind projects. You will need to enter specific information about the type of turbine you are considering, the estimated annual average wind speed, information about electricity use and electric rates, and information about financing and income taxes. The program will estimate the cash flows for investing in a wind turbine and the rate of return on the cash investments.

Use this calculator in conjunction with software from the Idaho National Laboratory. The software from Idaho National Laboratory is designed to combine validated wind resource data with wind turbine power curves to calculate average wind speed, estimated annual energy production, and capacity factor. Also included with the software is a program to help you create a wind rose for your site. The software is available at

Use of the Windustry Wind Project Calculator is for informational purposes. You may not modify any content, create derivative works from, transfer or sell any information, products or services obtained from Windustry unless expressly permitted by Windustry. Elements of the Windustry Wind Project Calculator are protected by trade dress, trademark, unfair competition, and other laws and may not be copied or imitated in whole or in part. The Windustry Wind Project Calculator is provided "as is," and Windustry makes no warranties or representations of any kind that the services provided by this software will be uninterrupted, error-free, or free from viruses or other forms of harmful computer code. You may not remove the Windustry logo from this software nor from printed pages of or created by this software, and you must attribute this software and it's printed creations in all forms and formats to Windustry. See the Windustry Terms of Use for further information.

Also see:

A Comparative Analysis of Community Wind Power Development Options in Oregon

A Comparative Analysis of Business Structures Suitable for Farmer-Owned Wind Power Projects in the United States (November 2004) was prepared for the Wind & Hydropower Technologies Program, U.S. Department of Energy, by Mark Bolinger and Ryan Wise.

For years, farmers in the United States have looked with envy on their European counterparts' ability to profitably farm the wind through ownership of distributed, utility-scale wind projects. Only within the past few years, however, has farmer- or community-owned wind power development become a reality in the United States. The primary hurdle to this type of development in the United States has been devising and implementing suitable business and legal structures that enable such projects to take advantage of tax-based federal incentives for wind power. This article discusses the limitations of such incentives in supporting farmer- or community-owned wind projects, describes four ownership structures that potentially overcome such limitations, and finally conducts comparative financial analysis on those four structures, using as an example a hypothetical 1.5 MW farmer-owned project located in the state of Oregon.

Read the Report

Small Packages, Big Benefits: Economic Advantages of Local Wind Projects

This report by Teresa Welsh of The Iowa Policy Project was published April 2005. This report highlights three analyses that compare the economic development benefits of small-scale, locally owned generation to other larger capacity ownership structures and discusses the barriers and changes necessary to aid the development of small scale, locally owned wind generation, specifically in Iowa.

Read the report

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