Wind Projects' 2012 Bounty

By Published On: August 8, 2013

The amount of new distributed wind power resources in the U.S. jumped 62 percent last year, with 812 MW of new projects- from small to large, according to a Department of Energy report released Aug. 6. California came in third place in 2012 for new installed wind capacity on the customer side of the meter, feeding onsite load. There was 23 MW of new distributed capacity last year. In first place was Iowa with 37 MW of new decentralized wind project capacity, followed by Massachusetts at 27 MW. “Reducing utility bills and hedging against potentially rising electricity rates remain drivers of distributed wind installations,” states the 2012 Market Report on Wind Technologies in Distributed Applications. Distributed wind technology—like distributed solar—serves the electricity needs on the customer side of the meter and what power is not needed there feeds into the grid. Businesses are installing the systems as a way to generate their own power and potentially save money. Average reported costs for distributed wind systems were $2,540/kW for utility-scale turbines (greater than 1 MW in size), $2,810/kW for mid-sized wind turbines (101kW to 1MW), and $6,960/kW for newly manufactured small wind turbines (100kW and smaller). Last year also saw a surge in use of refurbished turbines. The reported capacity-for these small installed wind turbines was $4,080/kW, the DOE reported. Federal and state incentives helped promote wind projects, including California’s net metering program that pays turbine owners for the power sent back to the grid. Iowa wind projects got a considerable boost from the federal Department of Agriculture’s Rural Energy for America Program. In spite of the growth in distributed wind energy from 2011 to 2012, considerable hurdles remain, including “very competitive solar photovoltaic and natural gas prices,” stated DOE.

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