Saturday, March 12, 2011

Turbine up and running

I've written before about the turbine we're having put up at our place. There were some challenges along the way, but it's been up and running now for nearly a month!

It took two cranes to pull up the 110-foot tower. One of our big setbacks was the cold in January since cranes and hydraulics don't work so well in below-zero temperatures.
Almost there:

It's an exciting thing putting up a turbine. For the first couple weeks I think we checked how many kilowatt hours were produced about every hour. Ours is a grid-tied system, so we don't have any batteries or whatever and are still attached to the grid just like anybody's house. If it's windy and we're producing power, we use the electricity from the turbine instead of the electrical system. If we're producing more than we need, Lake Region buys back the power through "net metering" if you've heard of that.

A small wind system isn't cheap and the payback takes a long time. So why did we do it? We were motivated some by being self-sufficient. But our main driver was the need to take responsibility for our own contributions to climate change and the negatives that come with energy production. Did you know that it takes a lump of coal the size of your fist to produce a kilowatt hour? Image throwing 1,000 down in your basement each month...does that give you a better sense of how your electrical needs effect the planet? A portion of North Dakota is being strip mined right now so I can flip on a light switch; in other parts of the US, a mountaintop in West Virginia is literally being blown right off. We were entrusted to steward Creation not simply consume it.