Small Wind Turbines Getting Popular, Home Depot Starts Selling Them

Small wind turbines are growing in popularity and Home Depot will begin selling them in stores in some of the windier parts of the country. 

Arizona-based Southwest Windpower, one of the pioneers and leading manufacturers of small wind turbines, says its Skystream 3.7 turbine will be available at stores in Texas, Nevada, Idaho, Utah, Wyoming and California, and will expand to other states.

Southwest says the turbine is the first compact, all-inclusive grid-connected personal wind turbine with controls and inverter built in.

Designed for use on farms, homes and businesses, the turbine can produce up to 400 kWh of clean electricity per month depending on the wind resource and site location. The average US home uses about 930 kwh per month according to government figures.

The Skystream 3.7 price is based on where it’s installed. A survey of websites that sell it shows it ranges from $6,000 to $9,000 before incentives. Customers may be eligible for a 30% federal tax credit and local incentives available through state governments and utilities.

In 2009, close to 10,000 small wind turbines were sold in the US, according to the American Wind Energy Association – up from only 2,100 turbines in 2001.

However, because modern, residential wind power is relatively new in the US, permitting and zoning rules are an obstacle in many parts of the country, according to a recent story in USA Today.

Some cities, like Boston, are leading the way by adopting codes to clarify issues like installation height and noise requirements.

James Hunt, the city’s chief of environmental and energy services, told USA Today that small scale wind is part of a broader vision the city has for renewable energy.

"We do envision the day when we will have houses that are super efficient, that are generating renewable energy through solar and building-integrated wind, and they are producing more energy than they consume and exporting energy into the grid," he says.

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