I envision that someday we could have small communities around the country collectively owning and operating their own wind machines which could serve the energy needs of 200-1,000 people. People within these communities could be hired to maintain and operate these community-owned sources of energy.
The new technology of wind generators does not require hundreds of them in one confined location. There is no need for wind machines to become visual obstructions or noise hazards.
As you drive on M-72 from Empire to Traverse City, notice the one lone wind machine with 75 foot blades standing only 150 feet above the ground. This machine is hardly obstructing the view, especially compared to the 1,000-foot radio towers nearby. Stop your car and roll down the window; if youre lucky, you might hear soft whispers coming from this non-polluting, renewable-energy source. (Similar windmills are found on I-75 just outside Mackinaw City.)
Due to innovations in wind technology, machines like the Vesta in Leelanau County are high energy producers and low in noise.The Vesta owned by Traverse Light & Power provides enough electricity to serve 200 homes. This same machine serves 400 homes in Europe.
If we develop State and Federal tax incentives to establish community-owned wind machines, and educate communities on how they can invest in sustainable energy and have ownership of their energy, then costs could in time be reversed.
The utility-owned wind machine orginally cost 200 participating home owners an additional 1.5 cents per kilowatt more than their neighbors who get their power from coal, oil and nuclear plants. Yet, after four years paying this increased price, the utility would own this wind machine outright. Think about that! Your community could own its own power-generating machine in four years with minimal sacrifice in cost. And from then on the cost of electricity would drop significantly.
These wind machines can be placed in high energy producing areas that arent necessarily going to obstruct our view.
I realize that our visual models are
wind farms in California. These wind farms are outdated by new technology. The California wind farms were from an early period in wind exploration. There were lots of small wind machines, and yes they did make noise. There were hundreds on ridge tops in very close proximity.
Yet there is no need to put hundreds of machines next to each other for miles along the coasts of the Great Lakes. A dozen Vestas like the one in Traverse City could provide power for 2,000-6,000 homes.
We cannot afford to continue wasting energy selfishly. The impact that we are having on our own lives and those of our children by blind consumption has to become our most precious concern. Using coal and oil and nuclear fuels to generate electricity creates such potential for devastation to our health and well being for the planet and all species on this earth.
What is needed is a distribution of power by government and the large utilities back in to the hands of the people - to the collective community - which I do believe would be a much truer sense of democracy, driven by our collective needs.
Going it Alone
Generating your own wind power is still a pricey proposition, but if youre committed to renewable energy, the resources are out there.
The Bergey Windpower Company in windy Oklahoma, for instance, sells a broad range of wind machines designed for rural homes, remote villages, eco-tourism resorts, farms and other applications.
According to the company, the BWC Excel model pictured here is, a modern 6.7 meter (22 ft.) diameter, 10,000 Watt wind turbine designed for high reliability, low maintenance, and automatic operation in adverse weather conditions. It is available in two configurations: battery charging and grid-connected.
Home wind systems typically charge a bank of batteries for those times when the breeze declines to blow. Conversely, when its blowing like a tornado, your surplus power can be uploaded to the nations power grid (but check with your local power company on the dos and donts involved).
Wind turbines start at just $2,450 for a 1kW machine suitable for a cottage. But the more useable 7.5 or 10kW machines run around $20,000-$25,000. Then there is the cost of the tower, batteries and incidentals... it all gets back to how committed your wallet is to renewable energy and rugged individualism.