A little under a year ago we wrote about the Best Residential Wind Power case study in the U.S. out in Reno, Nevada. After analyzing some of the wind energy production data from Reno's installed residential wind turbines, I stated in the end of the post: "The thing I found most interesting is that the wind turbines just don’t seem to be producing that much energy. This is something I chronicled in our post, Residential Clean Energy: Solar PV vs. Wind".
Well, some others have finally caught on to the fact that residential wind turbines aren't performing so well in Nevada. The Las Vegas Sun put up an article on March 30th with the title, "NV Energy windmill (sic) program generates rebates, little electricity" (Mapawatt note: windmills use the force of the wind to turn a shaft to do mechanical work - i.e. mill grain. Wind turbines use wind to turn a shaft to generate electricity)
From the opening paragraph of the Las Vegas Sun article:
A year ago, a Reno clean energy businessman warned the Public Utilities Commission that if it didn’t set a few standards for NV Energy’s wind rebate program, its customers could end up footing the bill for turbines that rarely produce electricity.
One reason behind his concern: To be eligible for rebates, customers didn’t need to prove that the wind actually blows enough to justify installing a turbine on their property.
“This could allow unscrupulous developers to sell turbines to unsuspecting customers who will not generate electricity from an installed turbine because there is no wind to power the turbine,” Clean Energy Center managing member Rich Hamilton told the PUC last May. “This problem is especially vexing because ratepayer money could be contributing to the cost of such turbines, which could give the Wind Generations program and the wind industry a black eye.”
But this isn't a new issue. In fact, we wrote a post in January about the folks in California who dealt with something similar when they realized the DyoCore SolAir wind turbine didn't even come close to living up to its energy production claims. In that case, the California Energy Commission realized it made some huge errors in the program, mainly that it allowed manufacturers to provide their own, unverified operating data, and put the wind turbine generator rebate program on hold for awhile. It’s back now, with only 4 approved wind turbine generators.
We aren't a fan of residential wind turbines, because there just aren't many homeowners in the U.S. who can make use of them, but we have stated that if you're planning on installing a wind turbine, make sure you use an anemometer first. This is the same advice recommended to improve the Nevada wind turbine rebate.
So is the problem that states and utilities just don't know how to give incentives for residential wind turbines or that residential wind turbines don't deserve incentives?