The American Wind Energy Association (AWEA) and the California Energy Commission (CEC), launched a campaign this week to educate consumers about the benefits of owning a small wind system and the state incentives that exist to encourage California consumers to generate their own electricity.WASHINGTON, D.C – May 6, 2002 [SolarAccess.com] Several California state programs have recently come into effect that make installing a home wind system cheaper and easier than ever before. To educate customers on the new opportunities to invest in self-generation, AWEA sent out a mailing this week to 65,000 rural California households that could benefit from owning a home wind system. With the help of California incentives, a typical payback period for a system will be six or seven years. After that, the wind power system generates virtually free electricity for the rest of its 30-year useful life. Since the savings are tax-free, this is equivalent to earning a return of 25 percent or more on a taxable investment. “There just aren’t many investment opportunities that good these days,” said Kathy Belyeu of AWEA. “In addition, wind power does not create any by-products that pollute the air and water, nor does it contribute to global climate change.” California leads the nation in programs to make buying and installing a home wind turbine easier, including: – The California Energy Commission currently offers a rebate of 50 percent on the purchase price of a home or small business wind energy system. Three manufacturers of home wind energy systems have been approved by the CEC to receive the credit. – New legislation offers consumers who install home or small business wind energy systems a 15 percent tax credit on the net costs (after rebates) for systems installed by December 31, 2002. A credit of 7.5 percent of net costs is available for systems installed after January 1, 2003 and before December 31, 2004. A typical system that is large enough to meet the average electricity needs of an energy efficient house costs approximately US$16,000 to install after the CEC rebate and state tax credit. A 10-kW system, for example, can reduce the owners’ monthly electric bill by as much as US$150 – $250. – California has enacted legislation that will simplify and standardize small wind systems zoning ordinances across the state. Existing height restrictions and other permit requirements have made installing small wind systems difficult. The new law requires California cities and counties to enact ordinances that allow wind turbine tower heights of at least 65 feet on any property sized one acre or more, allowing consumers to take advantage of the better wind speeds at greater heights. The bill also defines appropriate setback, noise and engineering analysis requirements. If cities and counties fail to act by July 1, the law states that small wind turbines will receive a permit by default, provided that they meet the state’s minimum requirements. – California utilities, like those in many states, are required to allow customers with Renewable Energy systems to send any excess power generated back to the utility, receiving credit for it at the same retail electric rate paid by the customer. Since California allows net metering on an annual basis, the excess power generated in high-wind months can, in effect, be banked with the utility for use in low-wind months.