USA - Wine farm installs wind turbine

"We really wanted our winery to be green. It is a big part of our business plan to be green in everything we do"

Prairie State Winery always has been green with its organic vineyards and its eco-friendly packaging. Now the winery's owners have taken their environmental business plan a step further by installing a wind turbine.

The winery, owned by Rick Mamoser and his wife, Maria, had a 50-foot tall wind turbine installed about a month ago adjacent to its storefront on Main Street. Genoa officials granted a special use permit to erect the turbine, a Skystream 3.7 model by Southwest Wind Power, said Mamoser, adding the city has been very supportive of their plan.

"We really wanted our winery to be green. It is a big part of our business plan to be green in everything we do," Rick Mamoser said. "We originally looked at moving our business to a more rural setting to do more green energy but we found this turbine appropriate for in town. It encouraged us to build our business in town rather than move to an open area."

The wind turbine is solely to augment and reduce the amount of electricity the winery uses, he said. It is tied to the power grid but is designed to help reduce the use of electricity. Prairie State Winery has not evaluated its electrical bill to determine what impact the turbine has had, but Mamoser is hopeful it will dramatically cut his electric bill.

Troy Rudy of Northern Illinois Wind Company sold the Mamosers the turbine. It is the first time a turbine is being used in a commercial setting in northern Illinois, Rudy said. Southwest Wind Power, based in Flagstaff, Ariz., manufacturers turbines for residential and commercial use.

"It's a state-of-the turbine; it's really simple," Rudy said. "When it's turning, it's generating power and reduces the amount of electricity you are pulling out of the electric grid. The faster the turbine turns or spins, the slower the meter goes."

The savings varies because there are many factors to consider, he said. His clients have been saving anywhere from 5 to 80 percent on their electric bills. The amount also depends on how much electricity the household or business uses. "I have clients who cut their electric bill in half," Troy said. He said he has received numerous calls from Genoa residents asking about turbines after they saw the one outside the winery. Most people want to know how long it takes to pay for itself. Troy said it usually takes eight to 10 years. The average price of a turbine is between $13,000 to $18,000.

"The U.S. small wind turbine market grew 14 percent in 2007," which translated to $42 million in total sales, according to the American Wind Energy Association, based in Washington, D.C.

Additionally, the "U.S. wind industry installed 5,244 megawatts in 2007, expanding the nation's total wind power capacity by 45 percent in a single calendar year." Illinois ranked third among states to add new capacity, with 592 megawatts added, according to a AWEA study released in April. There are several wind farms in Illinois.

The winery turbine spins most days, even when it doesn't seem very windy, Mamoser said. When it doesn't, people will drop by and ask why it is not turning. No one has had any complaints that it is a distraction or unattractive for the downtown, he said.

"People come in especially to ask about it," he said, adding he has given the sales representative's number to five people who want to learn more about the wind turbine.

Genoa's city council and planning commission is hoping Prairie State Winery is helping start a trend, Mamoser said.

"I'd love to see 10 more of these go up in Genoa," he said. "It's expensive. Not everybody may be able to do it right away. But you feel good about the money spent. It just feels right. It just feels good to us that we've made a small commitment."

Southwest Wind Power
Edited by Trevor Sievert, Online Editorial Journalist / Author: Southwest Wind Power Staff
wind energy, renewable energy, jobs, wind turbine, wind power, wind farm, rotorblade, onshore, offshore

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