Small wind success story: Wind turbine reduces Vineyard Electricity bills by half
Joe Mathewson of Paso Robles, Calif., says permitting staff weren’t sure what to expect when he proposed the first small wind turbine in the county, but their ready acceptance of the project made for a smooth installation.
“San Luis Obispo County was very friendly toward the application,” Mathewson says. Mathewson also noted that wind energy system customers must be prepared to document and in some cases justify specific installation decisions and expenditures.
Mathewson had been spending $15,000 annually on electricity to irrigate his 40-acre vineyard. He figured it was time to see if the wind, which blows steadily from afternoon to midnight in the summers, could do some of the work instead. Mathewson’s instincts were right: his 10-kilowatt wind generator reduced his power bill from $1,000 to $200 per month during the grape irrigation season. He cut his annual electricity bill by nearly half.
Mathewson installed the 10-kW turbine and 100-foot tower himself. The permit cost $400, and the process took only a couple of weeks. He says county planners were primarily interested in the integrity of his tower foundation and electrical connections. Since the turbine was installed in the center of his property, he did not encounter any opposition from neighbors.
Mathewson was so impressed with his system, which included a Davis VantagePro Weather System mounted 80 feet up the tower to measure wind speed and direction, that he began selling small wind turbines on the side.
“If you have a consistent wind resource, a suitable location, and want to reduce your electric bill, this is a good way to go,” he says.