Saturday, June 27, 2009

Tilting at Windmills

Remember when we talked about the individual wind turbines which cost $10,000 and would take over 40 years, without subsidies, to recover the return on investment?

Well, Parade Magazine, the one that comes with the newspaper, has a piece this week about old fashioned windmills, the kind you see out in the country on farms. They usually use them to pump water into troughs for livestock and other water needs in the country. So this article tells about tax credits for home windmills as a green or environmental project. As I see it, you'd better target farmers and ranchers or really, really rich people who live on large acreages because it certainly wouldn't pass the building codes in urban or suburban areas with lots that most of us live on.

It prompts me to tell you a story about "the olden days, when I was a girl." I have told you that my dad returned from WWII after being a POW for 44 months being captured on Wake Island, right? Well, he bought a 160 acre farm which stood for security in those days. If you had a farm you could grow everything you would need for food which city dwellers could not. And at this stage of his life that was paramount in his mind when supporting his family.

On this farm in 1946 there was what was called a "WinCharger"--a glorified windmill which captured energy and provided enough power to light the house and minimal lights in the outbuildings plus we had a 12 volt toaster and mixer and a couple of other appliances such as a radio and Christmas tree lights as I recall. We couldn't use them all at the same time, but it did provide for pumps and running water as well so we had a full bath. Life was good and the REA (Rural Electrification Agency) was working on bringing electricity to the farmers in rural areas which came around 1948. I have no clue as to exactly how this worked, but in the Minnesota prairie where there are now large farms with the great big turbines (wind farms) we had enough electricity.

The only point I would make mirrors the individual turbines in that the cost of the windmill is $40,000 and according to them, the investment recovery time would be 15 to 20 years. I would suggest that 15 to 20 years would necessitate a very large tax credit and a great location. And, it occurs to me that you need the wealth and dedication of Al Gore and his cohorts to be able to afford using such a system on a periodic basis determined by the weather while the fallback plan has a hookup to the local utility.

Hope this hasn't been too boring, but sometimes memories are fun. When one of the kids called this evening and heard what I was writing about, we started talking about the history of my family and now my kids are thinking they want the story of their grandparents written down. A woman's work is never done.....

God bless.......

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