Wind Power Rebate
Wind power is one of four types of renewable energy that the United States government has chosen to subsidize. They provides a 30% rebate to taxpayers who equip their homes with wind power systems. The money comes in the form of a tax credit: 30% of the cost of installation comes out of the total amount they owe. (No one may receive a refund as a consequence of this rebate; they may only pay less.)
Any type of small wind turbine can qualify for the rebate. All it has to do is convert the energy of moving air into electricity that can be used in a house.
Wind turbines rely on the power of moving air to generate electricity. Necessary components include:
- A rotor, which uses two or three blades to catch moving air. The hub in the middle is connects to a gear shaft, which transmits the angular momentum backwards.
- A turbine assembly, containing gears and a generator. This component of the turbine is responsible for turning the energy into usable electricity.
- A tower and foundation, which, simply but crucially, hold the whole thing up.
All of these elements, as well as the cost of installation, are covered by the federal wind power rebate.
About the Tax Credit
The only major limitation on the wind power credit concerns the size of the turbine. The law stipulates a 100 kW/h maximum production capacity, referred to as the nameplate capacity. Naturally, few turbines produce at full nameplate capacity, since the wind isn’t always blowing at full speed!
This production maximum will not be prohibitive for most homeowners. A turbine with nameplate capacity of 10 kW, in a reasonably windy area, can provide full power to an average home. The industry’s estimate for the cost of a turbine is $3000–$5000 per kilowatt, or around $40,000 for the average turbine. A wind power system with capacity over 100 kW would likely be part of a larger community initiative.
The wind power rebate was brought into being by the Energy Policy Act of 2005 and later extended by the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act in 2009. The recent extension of the law eliminates a $4000 cap on the credit; now the government will reimburse 30% of any amount.
Local Wind Power Rebates
In addition to the federal tax credit, there are a number of incentives provided by state governments encouraging homeowners to install wind power systems. These naturally vary from state to state. For exmaple:
- Massachusetts offers a hybrid rebate that pays off partly for expected production capacity and partly for actual production. This policy also covers small turbines, with nameplate capacity below 100 kW. Homeowners may also be able to claim a 15% credit on their state income tax.
- In Texas, homeowners do not pay property tax on the portion of their property’s value resulting from the installation of a wind power system.
- California’s incentives for wind power development are currently suspended due to budget problems.
The Department of Energy maintains a comprehensive database of state and local incentives for the installation of efficient energy technologies. This page shows the list of policies aimed at promoting residential wind power.
Remember, if you do not have the space or the money for a private wind power system, you can still buy wind electricity from the electrical grid by searching for providers on renewableelectricity.com.