Small Scale

Small Wind Conference 2010 draws large and engaged group

Windustry helped organize and produce the sixth annual Small Wind Conference, held this past June in Stevens Point, Wisconsin. Nearly 400 small wind systems and business colleagues attended from across the United States, as well as Mexico, Canada, Europe, Japan, and South Korea.

A keynote address kicked off the two-day event, given by Larry Flowers, National Wind Technology Center Principal Project Leader at National Renewable Energy Laboratory. Guests then enjoyed networking opportunities and presentations covering relevant and timely topics for policy analysts, manufacturers, and installers.

The conference wrapped up in Pfiffner Park, on the beautiful Wisconsin Riverfront, at a barbeque sponsored by Bergey Windpower.

Small Wind Conference 2010 presentation highlights:

  • Administrators of three state public-benefits programs explained what they look for in grant applications.
  • Manufacturers gave updates on the status of their companies and products, including an in-depth look at midsized turbines (turbines above 100 kW and below 1000kW), a fast growing segment of community wind installations.
  • Presentations for installers discussed climbing safety, what installers need in order to make their businesses sustainable, and a brainstorming session to help organize a working group to craft a best practices and standards document.
  • National Standards, for both turbines and installers, was the subject of a panel discussion with representatives from the Small Wind Certification Council (SWCC), the North American Board of Certified Energy Practitioners (NABCEP), and Underwriters Laboratories. Topics included certification, safety codes, turbine testing and results, wind resource measurement, and siting.
  • Poster sessions included presentations on wind energy education, wind assessment techniques, turbine manufacturers, and regional small wind test centers at Department of Energy/NREL

Award presenters and recipients

Awards given during the conference recognized individual contributions, while also highlighting milestones, in the small wind field:

  • Robert Preus, of XZERES Wind, was presented with the Wind Powering America Small Wind Advocate Award for his leadership and dedication in championing the US small wind turbine market, and particularly for his advocacy work to remove small wind barriers in Texas, Idaho, and Oregon.
  • Dr. Robert Wills, PE, from Windmonitoring.com, was recognized along with Preus, for updating the National Electric Code to include comprehensive requirements for small wind turbines that will increase safety and validate the small wind industry.
  • Lisa and Joe DiFrancisco, of North Coast Energy Systems in Pennsylvania, received the Small Wind Conference Installer of the Year Award for their work in advancing the interests of small wind in the eastern United States.
  • Ken Starcher, of the Alternative Energy Institute in Texas, received The Small Wind Educator Award for his role in advocating for small wind technology and educating numerous university students, international interns, and consumers on small wind industry issues.

The annual conference is developed and coordinated by a Small Wind Conference Coordinating Committee. This year, it was supported by a record, 22 sponsors and 25 exhibitors. The seventh annual Small Wind Conference will take place on June 13 - 15 in Stevens Point at the Holiday Inn Conference Center.

Evening by the River at the Small Wind Conference

Americans Making Power Act Proposes National Net Metering

July 2010, Washington, D.C. - Rep. Jay Inslee (WA) has introduced the Americans Making Power Act, or AMP Act, which would establish a national standard for net metering. The legislation would allow Americans to feed back into the grid excess renewable power they generate through their homes, small businesses and even places of worship. This legislation would also improve reliability of the nation's electric grid by encouraging a more diffuse means of energy production.

“Our new clean energy economy can start right at home.”

—  Rep. Jay Inslee

The AMP Act (HR 5692) addresses two main issues associated with a robust net metering policy; namely the actual net metering standard and a policy component designed to allow for the connection of a renewable energy system to the electric grid, also known as "interconnection." The AMP Act would accomplish this by modifying section 113 of the Public Utility Regulatory Policies Act (PURPA) of 1978. While some 42 states have already adopted some form of net metering and/or interconnection standards, there are many variations in policy and some states have yet to adopt net metering language at all.

The AMP Act would set a minimum in standards and procedures for net-metering including a limit on the size of machine at 2MW, but would allow states to enact their own regulations over and above this minimum. As written, the owner-generator keeps all renewable energy credits generated by the machine. Additionally, the requirement to offer this program does not apply once the utility has reached a total of 6% of its peak load in net-metered projects (or 4% of it's peak by any one qualifying net-metered technology). This is re-calculated every 12 months. Customer-generators will receive a kwh credit on their bill for any excess generation. At the end of 12 months, if there is a net excess of generation, the customer-generator recieves a payment equal to the average wholesale rate for the previous 12-month period per net excess kwh.

“Our new clean energy economy can start right at home,” said Rep. Inslee. “By empowering Americans, this legislation can help build the clean energy economy of the 21st century while saving families money. Imagine getting a credit on your bill from your utility company every month because you generated more power than you use.”

IREC Releases 2009 Interconnection and Net Metering Guides

The Interstate Renewable Energy Council (IREC) has just released the 2009 updates for its highly respected and influential rules and procedures for interconnecting and net metering distributed generation.

Many of the model procedures that regulators and utilities look to in developing local standards have not been updated in the past three years. Since that time, there has been significant market growth for renewable distributed generation. To facilitate that growth, many states have adopted net metering and interconnection policies and many others have revisited and expanded their existing policies to incorporate lessons learned from facilitating increased penetrations of distributed generation.

IREC has been a participant in more than thirty state utility commission rulemakings regarding interconnection and net metering of distributed generation. IREC's model rule updates capture these evolved best practices and compile them into a template regulators and utilities can use as a starting point when drafting local rules.

Important advances in interconnection procedures include:

  • clarifying that third party ownership of facilities is permissible;
  • raising the size eligibility for the simplest installations from 10 kilowatts to 25 kilowatts;
  • allowing online applications;
  • addressing state-jurisdictional facilities over ten megawatts; and
  • updating provisions related to network interconnections.

Important advances in net metering rules include:

  • increase in the size of systems eligible for net metering;
  • expansion of program capacity caps;
  • meter aggregation; and
  • accommodation of third-party ownership of net metered systems.

Both guides may be downloaded from IREC in the links below.
Model Interconnection Procedures 2009
Net Metering Model Rules 2009

Residential Renewable Energy Federal Tax Incentives

The American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009 extended many consumer tax incentives originally introduced in the Energy Policy Act of 2005 (EPACT) and amended in the Emergency Economic Stabilization Act of 2008 (P.L. 110-343).

Consumers who install residential small wind systems with a nameplate capacity of not more than 100 kilowatts can receive a 30% tax credit for systems placed in service before December 31, 2016; the previous tax credit cap no longer applies. This Residential Renewable Energy Tax Credit also applies to solar energy systems (including solar water heating and solar electric systems), geothermal heat pumps, and residential fuel cell and microturbine systems. There is no maximum credit for systems placed in service after 2008.

  • Systems must be placed in service on or after January 1, 2008, and on or before December 31, 2016.
  • The home served by the system does not have to be the taxpayer's principal residence.
  • Use IRS Tax Form 5695 for filing (a 2009 version will be available in late 2009 or early 2010.)

Information is available at the federal EnergyStar web site:
Federal Tax Credits for Energy Efficiency

A tax credit is generally more valuable than an equivalent tax deduction because a tax credit reduces tax dollar-for-dollar, while a deduction only removes a percentage of the tax that is owed. Consumers can itemize purchases on their federal income tax form, which will lower the total amount of tax they owe the government.

IRS Notice 2009-41 provides the guidelines for this tax crredit.

In addition to federal tax incentives, some consumers will also be eligible for utility or state rebates, as well as state tax incentives for energy-efficient home improvements. Each state's energy office web site may have more information on specific state tax information.

The Database of State Incentives for Renewables & Efficiency provides information and links to resources for individual states.

Small Wind Turbine Product Information

This web site uses the AWEA Small Wind Turbine Performance and Safety Standard for product listing and comparison. The AWEA Standard has been approved by the Small Wind Certification Council, an independent certification body. Certification means that small wind turbines meet or exceed the requirements of the AWEA Small Wind Turbine Performance and Safety Standard. This certification provides a common North American standard for reporting turbine energy and sound performance, and thus helps worthy small wind technology gain mainstream acceptance.

Wind Energy Basics - Revised Edition

Wind Energy Basics

"Wind energy works and makes environmental sense—more so today than ever before—but consumers have to be on their guard," writes wind energy pioneer, expert, and advocate Paul Gipe in his newly revised Wind Energy Basics, Second Edition: A Guide to Home- and Community-Scale Wind-Energy Systems. Gipe has worked for over three decades in renewable energy, has authored seven books, and has lectured widely on wind energy and how to minimize its impact on the environment and the communities of which it is a part.

Gipe is excited to see so much new interest in wind and solar technology, saying "Let's put a renewable energy plant in everyone's back yard. Let's create an energy system for life. Let's do it." But, he is also adamant in guiding people to the right technologies and strategies apart from those who would "seize on the public's fascination with wind energy and sell them wind turbines that perform poorly at high cost." He has tested and documented the performance of small wind turbines, so his updated Wind Energy Basics is an important guide for anyone considering use of wind energy for home, business, or community systems.

"Paul Gipe is an independent, opinionated voice on wind energy, cutting right to the core on almost any wind energy topic. He analyzes the issues with uncompromising standards. He has no trouble sharing the story as he sees it, encouraging all to explore business models and policies that offer something more, something for all of us."

—Lisa Daniels, Executive Director, Windustry

Gipe is a visonary who views wind power as a realistic replacement for the bulk of oil-, coal-, and natural gas– fired electrical plants in the U.S., and as a new fuel for most of the cars in the nation to run on electricity. In this wide-ranging book, Gipe not only covers the basics for understanding how wind turbine technology operates and how to plan a project using it, he makes a broad case for a clean energy future explaining how sustainable energy solutions are doable, can be accomplished much sooner than most realize, and how it will help resuscitate our industrial infrastructure, create jobs, and generate economic opportunity.

For those who are interested in supporting wind energy, Gipe details the advantages of Community Wind projects, offers advice for renewable investment strategies, and explains how government policy could better support energy independence. He doubts the ability of tax incentives and net metering to advance renewables, and he advocates for the adoption of feed-in tarriffs that would guarantee rates and grid connections for independent power producers, following the policies that have been successfully deployed in European countries. "If you pay for it, it [renewable energy] will come."

Paul Gipe
Paul Gipe

Chapters include:
• Technology
• Wind Energy Basics
• Estimating Performance
• Siting
• Off the Grid
• Interconnection
• Community Wind
• Investing in Wind Energy
• The Challenge

Listen to or read a transcript of an interview with Paul Gipe at The Oil Drum on the Weekend Energy Listening podcast episode Wind Power with Paul Gipe. For more information about Paul Gipe, his work, and his books, visit his web site Wind-Works.org.

Wind Powering America Small Wind Resources

The Wind Powering America web site contains resources for Small Wind for Homeowners, Ranchers, and Small Businesses, including Small Wind Electric Systems Consumer's Guides, events, webinars, news, publications, and web resources. Wind Powering America is part of the U.S. Department of Energy's Wind and Hydropower Technologies Program that leads the nation's efforts to improve the performance, lower the costs, and accelerate the deployment of wind and water power technologies.

Visit the Wind Powering America web site.

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