The energy and interest in wind energy was apparent on Wednesday July 22nd at Roane State Community College in Crossville, TN as 90 participants, nearly twice the amount as a workshop just 2 years ago, came together to learn more about wind energy systems. The workshop covered the decision process of selecting a wind turbine in harnessing wind power for one’s home or business. The attendees heard presentations on understanding local wind energy resource, potential financial incentives, different types of commercially available turbine technology, and how the region could play a significant role in helping the Department of Energy reach their 20% wind energy by 2030 vision.
One of the goals of the workshop was to connect the participants with the people they will need to work with for financing. Speakers and topics included:
Terry Ellis, from Tennessee ‘s Economic and Community Development Energy Division, spoke about the state of Tennessee’s clean energy technology grant, a grant program that will finance 40% of the project cost (up to $75,000) for a qualifying business.
Jimmy Allen, from the area USDA Rural Development office, informed the audience of the Rural Energy for America Program grant opportunity for rural businesses, which can cover up to 25% of costs and also provide low interest financing and loan guarantees for qualifying agricultural producers and rural businesses.
Katie Stokes, with the Southern Alliance for Clean Energy and Tennessee Wind Working Group, updated the audience on the new revisions to the Federal Tax Credit for small wind energy systems, which is an uncapped 30% tax credit applied to an individual or businesses’ federal tax income for systems 100 kW and smaller in size.
Patty Hurley, of Volunteer Energy Cooperative, informed the audience about the benefits of participating in the TVA Generation Partners program, which will not only purchase the electricity produced from a renewable energy system at a rate of $0.03 for wind energy systems ($0.12 for solar) above the retail price of electricity, but will also chip in $1,000 to help reduce the upfront cost of the infrastructure required for interconnecting a renewable energy system.
Additionally, Rick Carson, of TVA, discussed tower and turbine options and Ronnie Trout, of Morgan County Vocational School spoke about how he has integrated the design and installation of a 3kW Kestrel turbine on a tower constructed by students with assistance from a nearby business into the classroom.
Following the conclusion of the formal meeting, many participants chose the option of visiting the nearby Sportsman’s Wildlife Foundation Lodge to see their two small wind turbines that are currently in operation and the electrical equipment that connects the energy to the lodge. The lodge itself is a renewable energy laboratory of sorts as it is completely off the electrical grid and harnesses energy from the wind, sun, and soon to be micro-hydro resources to provide electricity and hot water for the many youth organizations that visit the lodge for environmental and conservation education programs.
The Tennessee Wind Working Group chose to return to Crossville because of the interest received from the community, the support given by community organizations such as the Learning Community and Roane State Community College, and because the Upper Cumberland area of Tennessee has many places where wind energy technology, small and large, can play a role in how electricity is produced in the TVA region.
To find more about wind energy in Tennessee, visit the Tennessee Wind Working Group’s website.
Submitted by Katie Stokes
Southern Alliance for Clean Energy