Wind Mills Give Energy Independence: Alternative Energy Becomes Cost Effective

Most people are familiar with the old fashion windmills; however, with the new advances in technology, wind power has become an increasingly important source of energy. Originally used for pumping water and grinding grain, its use has been expanded to produce electrical power for both commercial and private usage. With the rising oil prices and the looming threat of global warming, wind power has once again become a popular energy source.

Wind energy has the advantage of being totally renewable, environmentally friendly, and gives a cost effective way of providing power to remote locations. As with most alternative energy, wind is an unlimited source of domestic power, which gives the country energy independence. The primary disadvantage is the wind speeds needed to produce electricity may not be consistent in all areas. In addition, the larger turbines are currently slightly more costly to install; however, like all electronics, as the market expands, the cost and size will decrease. Larger towers have also been blocked by local zoning ordinances. Many neighbors claimed they are noisy and intrude on their visual enjoyment of the area. In spite of the effectiveness and need, three projects in Michigan have been halted or delayed due to local protests.

The traditional wind generators convert the power of the wind into electricity with the use of a simple generator. The wind rotates the blades, which spins the shaft. The shaft is connects to a generator, which creates electricity. The electricity is available for immediate usage or can be storage in batteries to be used at a future date. Large wind generators need wind speeds between 15-35 mph to produce electricity. Battery systems or banking the energy in the energy grid provide back up power during the times of low wind. These systems produce great amounts power and are primarily used for manufacturing, agricultural operations or residential areas that share a power source.

However, the advances in technology have developed a fully self-contained system that is not only cost effective, but is practically maintenance free. Garth Ward, of Michigan Wind Power, says the Skystream wind system is designed with the individual in mind. It cuts down electrical costs while being environmentally and neighbor friendly. The self-contained system costs less than a quarter of the larger systems and is effective at lower wind speeds. As little as 7 mph is enough to power a home. The tower is shorter and less intrusive to the aesthetic appreciation of the area. In addition, the enclosed noise reduction feature keeps it from being a bad neighbor. Mr. Ward’s website is http://www.michiganwindpower.net/.

On March 22, 2007, the Department of Agriculture once again made funds available for renewable energy. Funding in the form of grants and guaranteed loans, ranging from $2,500. to $50,000 are available to agriculture producers and rural small businesses. For more information about the federal funding contact your state Department of Agriculture. RESNET, Residential Energy Services Network, provides loans and mortgages to those who wish to make their homes more energy efficient and independent. Additional incentives can be found in the Federal and state governments tax deductions to those who use alterative energy both in the home as well as at work.

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