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Why Wind?

Wind FAQs

Wind Links

Wind FAQs

Wind has supplied power to humans for hundreds of years – it's what brought Columbus to America! But creating electricity from wind is a relatively new technology.

Electricity is used every day to do everything from lighting homes and keeping food cold to watching the big game on TV or surfing the Internet. The planet's electricity demands keep increasing, but the supply of fossil fuels traditionally used to create that energy is decreasing. We don't have an endless supply of coal or natural gas either domestically or globally – and there are also potential environmental problems with these types of fuels — so it's important and necessary to look elsewhere to find ways to create the energy we need.

Wind energy can help us meet these growing energy needs. The wind is endlessly renewable, and EcoEnergy Wind is working to develop, build, and manage wind energy facilities that can harness the wind's power.

New technology can bring up many questions, and we hope that you'll find the answers you're looking for here. Thanks for visiting our Web site, and if you have any further questions about wind energy, please contact us.

How does a wind energy facility work?
What is a wind turbine?
How big is a wind turbine?
Who builds EcoEnergy's turbines?
How much energy does a wind turbine create?
What if the wind doesn't blow?
Because they don't produce all the time, aren't wind turbines an inefficient way to get our electricity?
Will my electric bill change because of wind energy?
How does wind energy compare with other forms of energy in regards to global warming and other environmental issues?
Are wind turbines dangerous to birds?
How is wind energy beneficial to wildlife and the environment?
Are wind turbines noisy?
Will the lights of the wind energy facility be bothersome?
What is shadow flicker?
Do turbines negatively affect agriculture?
Will having a wind energy facility nearby affect my property value?
Why should I be in favor of a wind energy facility, if I won't profit from it?
Does the government subsidize wind energy?
Where can I find more information about wind energy?


How does a wind energy facility work?
A wind energy facility is a group of wind turbines whose blades collect the kinetic energy of the wind (i.e., the energy due to the motion of the wind) and transform it into electrical energy by spinning a turbine inside the housing of the turbine. The electricity is sold to the area's utility or into the wholesale power market.

What is a wind turbine?
A wind turbine is a mechanical device that uses the kinetic energy from the wind (i.e., the energy due to the motion of the wind) to generate electricity. A fan uses electricity and converts it through the motion of the blades to kinetic energy in the air, which causes a breeze to blow. A wind turbine runs in reverse in that the blades capture the kinetic energy of the blowing wind that occurs naturally and through their movement rotate a shaft that runs an electrical generator. Since the earth's wind is generated by the sun and the earth's rotation, wind energy is actually a form of solar energy.

A turbine includes:

  • A rotor or blades, which convert the wind's kinetic energy into rotational shaft energy
  • A nacelle (enclosure) containing a drive train, a gearbox and a electrical generator
  • A tower to support the rotor and drive train
  • Electronic controls to keep the turbine facing into the wind
  • Electrical cables, grounding and interconnection equipment

How big is a wind turbine?
EcoEnergy's turbines typically measure 262 feet (80 meters) to the hub height (where the blades meet) and rotor diameters in the range of 246 to 295 feet (75 to 90 meters)..

Who builds EcoEnergy's turbines?
EcoEnergy Wind partners with globally recognized and respected turbine manufacturers, while acting as the developer and participating in or owning the construction and engineering of the projects. All of the turbines in our wind projects are the highest quality available on the market today.

The U.S. is now the world's largest wind energy producer, and components are increasingly produced in the United States. European manufacturers of turbines, in addition to American manufacturers, have plants in the United States. Since the beginning of 2008, over 40 manufacturing facilities have been opened, expanded, or announced in the U.S., and will have created more than 9,000 jobs when at full capacity.

How much energy does a wind turbine create?
EcoEnergy's turbines range from 1.5 to 2.5 megawatts (MW) The average American household uses about 10,655 kilowatt-hours (kWh) of electricity each year. One MW of wind energy can generate from 2.4 to more than 3 million kWh each year, so each one of our turbines can generate enough electricity for 400 to 650 homes each year.

What if the wind doesn't blow?
Our turbines may not be turning in one of our wind projects – but they're turning in another. The energy created by wind turbines is either sold to the wholesale power market comprising many utilities or to individual utilities directly, just like the power created from a fossil fuel plant, a nuclear facility, or a hydroelectric dam. Regardless of the exact sale arrangement, all commercial wind power is included in the wide scale regional planning that spans across many utilities and multiple states by what is known as the Regional Transmission Operator (RTO). The result is that wind energy becomes part of the overall power supply mix and once planned over a large geographic area, it then becomes quite predictable because there are many facilities in the network.

In other words, wind and weather patterns, which are taken carefully into consideration when planning wind facilities, ensure that wind energy is being produced somewhere on the network, even if the turbines you see at any given moment may not be turning. Once connected to the grid, power from wind energy – just like power from other renewable energy sources – is available virtually all the time, helping to reduce dependence on power created from non-renewable sources.

Because they don't produce all the time, aren't wind turbines an inefficient way to get our electricity?
Wind turbines actually generate electricity most of the time (65 to 80 percent), though the output amount is variable. No power plant – fossil fuel, nuclear or wind – generates energy at 100 percent "nameplate capacity" 100 percent of the time. ("Nameplate capacity" refers to the maximum generation potential of a power plant.) As noted above, commercial wind facilities are also highly interconnected, ensuring that power from wind is available on a consistent basis even if some turbines are not turning at a given moment.

Wind turbines are actually extremely efficient. One of the simplest ways to measure overall efficiency is to look at the energy payback of an energy technology, or the amount of energy consumed in producing additional energy. The energy payback time for wind is similar to or better than that of conventional power plants. A recent University of Wisconsin – Madison study calculated that the average energy payback of Midwestern wind farms is between 17 and 39 times as much energy as they consume (depending upon average wind speeds at the site). Nuclear power plants generate only about 16 times as much energy as they consume and coal plants generate just 11 times as much energy as they consume.

In addition to being more efficient, wind turbines generate electricity from a natural, renewable resource, without any hidden social or environmental costs – there is no need to mine for fuel or transport it, no global warming pollutants created, and no need to store, treat or dispose of wastes.

Will my electric bill change because of wind energy?
EcoEnergy is not a direct power supplier and therefore has no direct ability to impact your electric bill. However, developing alternative sources of energy is an important part of reducing dependence on fossil fuels, which may help to stabilize the price you pay for energy. In other words, when your energy is created by a fossil fuel-burning plant, your energy prices are subject to fluctuations in the price of that fossil fuel. Wind never changes price – it is always free. So adding more wind power to our energy mix may help with energy pricing overall.

As for the cost of building a wind energy facility, we think wind energy is a good business decision, which is why we're investing millions of dollars in wind energy projects. Unlike construction costs for some energy facilities, the cost of constructing and maintaining our facilities is not passed on to residential energy customerstomers.

How does wind energy compare with other forms of energy in regards to global warming and other environmental issues?
Each of EcoEnergy's 1.5 – 2.5 megawatt wind turbines produces between 4 and 6.5 million kilowatt hours (kWh) of energy each year, releasing no C02. A typical power plant burning fossil fuel to produce the same amount of energy releases at least 6.84 million pounds of pollutants into the air annually.

Click here to read more details.

Are wind turbines dangerous to birds?
Studies in the Midwest have found that very few birds are harmed by turbines. One study concluded that for every 10,000 bird deaths, less than one is caused by a wind turbine. Buildings (5,500 deaths), cats (1,000 deaths) and vehicles (700 deaths) are a much greater danger to our feathered friends than wind turbines. In fact, by offsetting harmful impacts from other energy sources, wind turbines actually are beneficial to wildlife. We're proud to say that the National Audubon Society is in favor of wind energy, saying it "strongly supports wind power as a clean alternative energy source."

How is wind energy beneficial to wildlife and the environment?
Wind turbines generate electricity with no harmful byproducts – it doesn't pollute the air, the water or the ground. This clean energy fulfills the need for power without any harm to the environment.

Three major environmental groups, in fact, have teamed to support wind energy. Visit www.yes2wind.com to find out how the World Wildlife Fund, Greenpeace, and Friends of the Earth support wind energy.

Are wind turbines noisy?
Modern wind turbines operate much more efficiently – and quietly – than the high-speed turbines built in the 1980s. Sound is energy, remember, and the turbines are designed to efficiently capture as much energy as possible from the wind to generate electricity, not create sound! Sounds from state-of-the-art wind turbines are comparable to normal background sounds in residential areas. EcoEnergy works with local officials and experts to ensure that these sound levels are met before ground is ever broken for a wind energy facility.

Will the lights of the wind energy facility be bothersome?
The Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) has issued standards for lighting wind turbine facilities (U.S.D.O.T.; AC 70/0460-1K, Chapter 13; effective 2/01/07). These standards describe how to light the perimeter of any wind turbine group, and specify the synchronization of lighting operation. EcoEnergy Wind works with the FAA and each state's department of transportation to ensure our lighting systems comply with all rules and minimize any impact on our neighbors.

What is shadow flicker?
Shadow flicker is the term used to describe what happens when rotating turbine blades come between the viewer and the sun, causing a moving shadow effect. According to the American Wind Energy Association, the National Academy of Sciences found in May, 2007 that "In the United States, shadow flicker has not been identified as causing even mild annoyance. In northern Europe, on the other hand, because of the higher latitude and lower angle of the sun, especially in winter, shadow flicker can be a problem of concern."

Shadow flicker is almost never a problem for residences near new wind energy facilities, and in the few cases where it could be, it is easily avoided through careful siting.

Do turbines negatively affect agriculture?
Absolutely not! Turbines actually have very little effect on land use. The average "footprint" of the turbine and accompanying access road is less than 1/3 acre, so farmers aren't converting very much of their land for wind facility use. In fact, those access roads may give farmers better access to their fields, which makes it easier to harvest their crops. The electric power system between turbines is underground, which minimizes the impact even further. The American Corn Growers Foundation, in a nationwide survey of more than 500 corn producers, found that more than 93 percent of corn producers favor wind energy.

Having a wind turbine in the area doesn't affect planting, harvesting, fertilizing or pest control. Because of our setbacks, farmers who aren't leasing land to the wind energy facility will have more than the required 500 feet of space required to apply pest control via crop dusting, if needed. Because pesticide drift prevents crop dusting on windy days, turbine blades pose no danger. Farmers who lease land to the wind energy facility may use helicopters or land-based equipment for application.

Beyond providing the potential for a very profitable return per acre for the small footprint involved, a wind energy facility has very little impact on farmers. Wind turbine lease payments provide a stable, long-term source of reliable cash flow, which can help small family farmers keep their land in agricultural use. Harvesting the wind year-round is an effective way to diversify that can help keep farmers farming.

Will having a wind energy facility nearby affect my property value?
Numerous studies have confirmed that property values in areas surrounding a wind energy facility show no appreciable change after the development has been completed. A 2006 study, "Impacts of Windmill Visibility on Property Values in Madison County, New York," scored properties according to how much of the turbine was visible, and found that over a period of nine years, even the properties with the highest score (a complete view of the turbine) did not experience a drop in property values. {Ben Hoen, Bard Center for Environmental Policy, Bard College, April 2006} A 2005 study of the Mendota Hills wind energy facility in Lee County, Illinois and of the two wind energy facilities located in Kewaunee County, Wisconsin found no statistically significant difference in prices for properties located near an operating wind power facility and those further away. A January, 2007 update of the Mendota Hills portion of the study showed property prices continued to not be affected and that housing construction and development continued in the area.

Why should I be in favor of a wind energy facility, if I won't profit from it?
Actually, most people will benefit from having a wind energy facility nearby. Installing millions of dollars of equipment in an area increase the amount of local taxes assessed, and the money EcoEnergy pays in taxes will help to pay for schools, roads and other public services. Economic benefit associated with a new wind energy facility goes beyond taxes to increased employment, both directly from the construction and operation of the facility and indirectly through money pumped into the local economy. We believe that good business citizens support their community economically, and EcoEnergy Wind is committed to being both a good business citizen and a good neighbor.

Does the government subsidize wind energy?
Nearly every energy technology is subsidized and wind energy is no exception. Wind energy receives a Production Tax Credit (PTC) that is adjusted for inflation and is currently valued at 2.1 cents for each kilowatt hour generated over the first 10 years of the project. This credit reduces the federal tax liability of a wind energy facility, but is not a subsidy of public money flowing to the wind energy facility owner. According to a study prepared for the National Commission on Energy Policy, federal energy subsidies for the year 2003 for all types of energy combined ranged from $37 billion to $64 billion; wind energy accounted for less than 1 percent of the total.

Where can I find more information about wind energy?

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