Answers to Frequently Asked Questions
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/
And finally, please see these other guides:
Distributed Generation Interconnection Manual
Connecting to the Grid
Texas Interconnection and Net Metering
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/
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
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.
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.
In Texas, two organizations maintain databases of renewable energy experts: the Texas Solar Energy Society (TXSES) and the Texas Renewable Energy Industries Association (TREIA).
Solar Energy Society (TXSES)
Texas Renewable Energy Industries Association
Please see these web sites: