A possible solution to the nation's energy problems could be in the power of the wind. That power is being captured and used by residents right here in Michiana.
Our Mike Hoffman went on the road to find out more about wind turbines for the home.
It used to be that wind on the farm would turn mills for water and dry your clothes. Well the wind still blows, but how we use that wind is changing.
“Come on Windy, you can do it. We named it Windy,” Dawn Yoder said.
For the past year and a half the Yoder's wind turbine is part of the family at their rural home in St Joseph County.
Thirty-three-foot tower with unit setting on top and a little bit of wind, at least 8 mph, that's what it takes to start it. Once it starts it will turn down to one mile an hour.
Daryl Yoder, an electrical worker for 18 years, researched wind turbines for 25, before buying one from Wind Wire.
“Two-point-four kilo watts as much as 56,000 watts will produce more than 2.4. This line here is a line that goes under ground and goes up to the building and ties into the electrical box where your two pole breakers snapped in,” Daryl said.
When we are producing more than we are consuming this dial will either stop and if we are producing more it will start to run in the reverse direction, very efficient,” Daryl said.
Is it kind of exciting to pull into work and see that thing spinning?
“Yeah it's the first thing we look at right now,” Dave Ferguson from Michiana Wind Systems said.
Efficiency is what they are talking about at Michiana Wind Systems, a new company in Berrien County, Michigan.
“You can feel it vibrating just a little bit as the RPM's increase. And that's the motion transferring down the hollow tower,” Ferguson said.
“Right now we've got free juice,” Ferguson said.
Free juice from this five kilo watt unit costing $30,000, that's two times the power and two times the price of the Yoders.
“They have really developed the technology. It's a asynchronous field, which is a field excited by electricity that tightens as it turns. And that keeps the wattage up and the blade slow,” Ferguson said.
The government is moving fast to make alternative energy more attractive.
“Through the federal government you can get a 30 percent tax credit if you are an individual,” Tracy Galbreath said.
“Governor Granholm is pushing to be a go green state and I think people are grasping at that. This is a big step to head in that direction,” Galbreath added.
For most of the counties around here is there ordinances for that?
“Not all townships or counties are ready for the wind business. Some are just preparing to be ready,” Ferguson said.
Beside tax breaks, there are other positives for making an investment
“Probably the biggest benefit to the home owner is the low carbon foot print,” Ferguson said.
“It's kind of neat to watch wind produce this kind of energy and it's running the lights in the company right now,” Ferguson added.
Which has been a low day, I mean what have you seen that some days?
“Ah eight or nine dollars,” Ferguson said.
“If this unit was in a house running the way it's been running the last six weeks you wouldn't have much of a bill,” Ferguson added.
Back at the Yoder home Windy is also paying some of the bills.
“First I thought it was a lot but then I realized, I can't take $15,000 and put it in the bank and get $50 bucks back. And then I still have my investment when I sell the place, Dawn said.
At 12 cents per Kilowatt hour, and the likely hood of higher energy rates in the future, the Yoders say they should pay off their turbine in less than 8 years.
“We've seen from nearly $1300 down to $600. So we're cutting our bill anywhere from 50 to 60 percent,” Daryl said.
“I'm completely happy. And I just like coming home seeing it spin,” Daryl added.
So what can people do if they're interested in buying a home wind turbine?
Well, we suggest you do your research, it's amazing what's already out there and what's coming in the future.
Along with inspection from your local power company, each company sells different units and each county has its own guidelines.
For more information on how and where to get started if you want your own wind turbine, just click on the Big Red Bar.
Links for more information about wind turbines for the home.
'DISCLAIMER: The views and opinions expressed in this story does not necessarily reflect the views of WNDU. We are just showing what the future holds for wind energy.