need to follow, or if you’re a pioneer in your community,
your project may become the test case.
“In Chicago, for example, the zone requires a radius
4) Check Grid Connectivity and Metering
that is 10% larger than the turbine’s aerial footprint,”
Miller explains. “If your turbine hub is 150 feet and you
have another 80 feet for the blades, that’s 230 feet plus
10%, which is a 250-foot radius. Obviously you need a very
large area. At the same time, you have to make sure this
extra buffer doesn’t spill over your property line.”
Your manufacturer or a consultant can help you navi-
gate siting considerations, including any topographical
barriers that could complicate the project, adds Atkinson.
Connecting a wind turbine to the grid, as with any other
renewable energy source, can make utility providers wary.
Safety and connection stability aside, you need to investigate pay rates. The optimal arrangement is for your local
power provider to allow net metering.
“The utility will install a meter that runs both ways,” Killian
Be cautious that not every utility is on board with net
explains. “When the turbine is generating excess power your
facility can’t use, the meter will spin the other way.”
What this means is that when you dump clean energy
onto the grid, you receive credit for it at the same rate you
would normally purchase it. The utility receives a source of
green energy and what you produced doesn’t go to waste.
metering. You need to have this conversation before you
commit to your project, says Ryan Gilchrist, assistant
director of business development for Urban Green Energy
(UGE), a provider of building-integrated turbines. There
could also be expensive utility upgrades you have to make
to enable such an arrangement, which could negatively
impact your margins if you don’t account for them at the
“Even if your utility offers this option, there’s no univer-
“You may pay 10 cents per k W but only get 2 or 3 cents
sal net metering thresholds among states or even within
utility regions,” Atkinson explains. “Some may have allow-
ances of 100 k W, some are only 50. Some could be unlim-
ited while others are up to 20 MW. It’s all over the map, so
know what your state or region will permit.”
There are also arrangements that are less than favor-
able for building owners. A growing number of states have
mandated that utilities offer net metering, but without
this enforcement, some utility regions may still offer an
for your wind energy. In these situations, the economics
are terrible and may impede an attractive payback,” cau-
5) Look for Independent Verification
Not sure if the reputation and quality of your manu-
facturer’s claims are valid? Greenwashing can stain even
Wisconsin’s first high school renewable energy center is proud to have this turbine complement textbook lessons on renewable power.
Installed in 2009, the gearless design offers 24/7 monitoring ca-
pabilities and students can access power data through web portals.
The information is used across curricula and throughout all grade
levels to track wind speed, historical data, and energy efficiency.
The school is projected to save almost half a million dollars on
INFORMATION AND IMAGE COURTESY OF NORTHERN POWER SYSTEMS
CASE STUDY #2 | WAUSAU EAST HIGH SCHOOL
28 BUILDINGS 11. 14
utility bills and has thus far offset more than 208 metric tons of
carbon emissions. The site’s five-year wind resource has averaged 4. 23 m/s ( 9. 9 mph). The educational benefits of the wind
system to the students was the primary motivation and purpose
for this renewable energy installation.
The project was funded with support from the Walter Alexander
Foundation, Focus on Energy, and the Wisconsin Public Service