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Answers to Frequently Asked Questions
 

 

Answers to Frequently Asked Questions

  1. Developing a Wind Farm: I'm interested in installing large wind turbines on my land and selling the electricity to someone. Who should I contact? How much money will I receive?

  2. Small-Scale Wind Systems: I'd like to install a wind turbine on my property for my own electricity needs. Where can I find more information about different types of wind turbines?

  3. Rebates and Incentives: Are there any rebate programs or tax incentives to install solar or wind energy systems in my home?

  4. Small-Scale Solar Systems: How many solar panels would I need to power my home? How much would it cost and is it economical?

  5. Finding Companies that can Help: How can I find vendors/dealers/designers of renewable energy equipment?

  6. Choosing a Competitive Power Supplier: How do I find out who is offering energy in my area? Where can I compare choices based on cost, contract terms, and emissions?

1. I'm interested in installing large wind turbines on my land and selling the electricity to someone. Who should I contact? How much money will I receive?

At this time, there is no set procedure for a landowner to follow. There are many factors that are considered by wind farm developers when selecting lands, assessing the feasibility of building wind farms and determining compensation/payment for landowner hosts.

Basic Requirements: For starters, land is considered suitable for wind farm development if it has AVERAGE wind speeds of 12 miles per hour at 33 feet. Sites are typically chosen that are located on mountains, atop mesas and along ridges. Sufficient land space is required to accommodate a suitable number of turbines (as determined by the developer) for maximum cost-effectiveness, as well as to accommodate the construction process. The proximity of the land space to existing transmission lines, provided that the lines have available transmission capacity, is a crucial factor. The closer a site is to existing transmission lines, the lower the cost to deliver energy generated to the power grid, which is a situation that is preferable to developers.

Financial Compensation: There are several types of payment arrangements that can be made between landowner and developer. The payment arrangement may vary on a case-by-case basis. For instance, some developers may set up a test wind turbine to evaluate the output for one year, and pay the owner a fee for the land use. Other arrangements include payment on a per acre basis, per contract period, or a developer may even offer to buy the land.

Can I contact a wind developer? Unfortunately, at this time, no procedure has been established for landowners to contact wind farm developers to make their land available. Considerable wind resource assessments have been performed statewide which provide utilities and/or wind farm developers a good idea of land areas to consider. Typically wind farm developers identify a site that has a considerable wind resource, determine the owner of the land parcels, and contact the owner directly.

For General Information: In Texas, there is an organization called the Texas Renewable Energy Industries Association (TREIA) whose members consist of all stakeholders of renewable energy including wind (developers, utilities, consultants, construction companies and owners of windy land). If you are interested, you may join TREIA as a landowner so that wind farm developers will know that you are welcome to the idea of installing wind turbines on your land. TREIA's website is: www.treia.org (see membership). Other resources are West Texas A&M University in Canyon, TX, who occasionally seminars for windy landowners. Following is their contact information:

Website Address: http://www.wtamu.edu/research/aei/ 
Contact: Ken Starcher
Mailing Address: Box 248, WTAMU, Canyon, TX 79016
Telephone Number: (806) 651-2296
Fax Number: (806) 651-2733
Email Address: [email protected]

And finally, please see these other guides:

Wind Energy - A Landowner's Perspective
Wind Energy Easements and Leases
American Wind Energy Association

Distributed Generation Interconnection Manual
The Public Utility Commission of Texas (PUCT) has prepared this manual to guide
the inclusion of distributed generation into the Texas electric system. It is intended for use by utility engineers processing distributed generation interconnection applications, as well as those persons considering or proposing the interconnection of distributed generation with a transmission and distribution utility (TDU). While every possible eventuality or circumstance cannot be anticipated, the procedures in this manual should cover most important issues or problems, including a process for prompt dispute resolution. The manual includes a review of safety and technical requirements of DG installations; a copy of applicable rules, application procedures and forms; Texas utility contacts; and equipment pre-certification requirements.

Connecting to the Grid
This federal IREC site is up-to-date with two tables of info that include Texas:

Texas Interconnection and Net Metering
Interconnection and Net Metering of Small Renewable Energy Generators in Texas: Final Report of the Texas RE-Connect Project, June 2005 is a U.S. Department of Energy Million Solar Roofs Project, prepared by the Texas Million Solar Roofs Partnership.

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2. I'd like to install a small wind turbine on my property for my own electricity needs. Where can I find more information about different types of wind turbines?

There are many useful resources for consumers interested in installing wind turbines for residential use. One of the leading wind energy educational and research institutes is West Texas A&M University's Alternate Energy Institute (AEI). AEI is involved in several aspects of wind energy development including research and education such as seminars for the general public. For more information, contact:

Website Address: http://www.wtamu.edu/research/aei/
Contact: Vaughn Nelson
Mailing Address: Box 248, WTAMU, Canyon, TX 79016
Telephone Number: (806) 651-2296
Fax Number: (806) 651-2733
Email Address: [email protected]

Another great resource for learning about residential wind is Home Power magazine. SECO has an extensive list of links and resources for small wind systems.

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3. Are there any rebate programs or tax incentives to install solar or wind energy systems in my home?

Although the state does not have a program at this time that provides funding of renewable energy equipment on an individual basis, there are tax exemptions available in certain instances. Texas residents can also check with their local utility providers, as some have energy efficiency programs that offer low cost loans/rebates and advice on renewable energy technologies. For information on financial incentives for renewable energy in Texas, please see the following State Energy Conservation Office (SECO) web site:

Texas Tax Codes for Solar and Wind-Powered Energy Systems
Property tax exemptions, franchise tax exemptions, and franchise tax deductions.

Renewable Energy Incentives

Energy Policy Act of 2005 (H.R. 6) Tax Credits
Several articles on the Energy Policy Act of 2005 Tax Credits.

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4. How many solar panels would I need to power my home? How much would it cost and is it economical?

Residential solar panels are typically one of two types: solar electric or photovoltaic (PV) panels which generate electricity or solar thermal which generate heat (used to heat water and/or air space).

Photovoltaic/Solar Electric Panels: We have developed a worksheet that assists homeowners determine the size of a photovoltaic system that would best need their needs: Estimating PV System Size and Cost.

The worksheet basically takes you through the following steps:

  1. Determine your daily household electricity usage (based on electrical loads in your home: TV, refrigerator, lights, etc.)
  2. Determine the size of a system (PV array, integration equipment) you'd need to meet your electricity usage (based on sunlight available in your area)
  3. Calculate the cost of the equipment determined in step 2 (based on some average price figures)

Once you know the size of the PV array, you can select a solar module manufacturer and determine the number of modules you will need. (Modules come in a variety of sizes and power output ranging from 5 watts to 300 watts. A vendor can assist you in selecting modules and other necessary equipment.)

Solar Thermal: Water can be heated by solar energy using a passive solar heater (which has no moving parts and requires no external energy source than the sun ) or an active solar heater (which uses collectors, sensors, pumps and other controlling mechanisms). Because solar water heater design can vary, we recommend you contact a vendor to determine the type of system that is best suited for your needs.

Is it economically feasible? Only the homeowner can truly determine if a renewable energy system is economical for his or her residence. You can calculate the payback period based on your current energy bill and the cost of the system. But it mostly depends on the homeowner's economic and financial priorities. What is considered economically feasible for one family may not be to another. Given today's electricity prices, payback periods for residential grid-connected PV systems tend to be about 20 years; payback periods for off-grid systems can be immediate if the alternative cost of a line extension is high.

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5. How can I find vendors/dealers/designers of renewable energy equipment?

In Texas, two organizations maintain databases of renewable energy experts: the Texas Solar Energy Society (TXSES) and the Texas Renewable Energy Industries Association (TREIA).

Texas Solar Energy Society (TXSES)
TXSES is an educational organization formed to promote solar and other renewable energy applications. The membership of TXSES includes educators, engineers, researchers, students, bankers, electrical contractors, architects, builders, building inspectors, homeowners and solar enthusiasts. The Society is a non-profit organization open to anyone with an interest in renewable energy. Their vendor website can be found at the following link:

Texas Renewable Energy Industries Association (TREIA)
TREIA is a statewide non-profit organization of companies and individuals involved in solar, wind, biomass, geothermal and hydroelectric energy products and/or services. Their member list can be found at this link:

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6. How do I find out who is offering energy in my area? Where can I compare choices based on cost, contract terms, and emissions?

Please see these web sites:

Texas Electric Choice
Enter your ZIP CODE to find a electric provider in your area. A Public Utility Commission of Texas web site where customers can choose the retail electric provider that meets their own requirements. Some electric providers offer lower rates, wind or solar power, or the promise of better customer service. At this site customers can shop and compare. For additional information, call toll-free 1-866-PWR-4-TEX (1-866-797-4839) or send an email to [email protected].

The Texas Public Utilities Commission maintains a list of electric companies serving Texas including contacts for interconnection of generation.

Electricity Choice and Green Power

Electricity Texas



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