Wind turbine saves energy for Arkansas County family

Tuesday, January 24, 2012

The wind turbine was the idea of Nathan Wilson of northwest Arkansas. The 30-year-old’s interest grew during his six years as an Air National Guardsman. It increased the more he studied until he decided to experiment with a residential wind turbine at his parents, Richard and Vicky Wilson’s, farm just north of Humphrey. It was welcome news to Vicky Wilson, who said the family has always been interested in ways to ‘go green.’

“I would like to be energy efficient,” Vicky Wilson said. “When I retire, I do not want that many bills. I would like to be a little more independent.”

The wind turbine enhances the family’s goal since they built their home in 2003 to be energy efficient with extra insulation and geothermal. The work also enhances Wilson’s work professionally. He previously started Winds of Changes, a company that performs energy audits, wind site assessments and wind generator installations for both residential and commercial customers.

The family hired Montgomery Gibbs of Siloam Springs’ Windpower Inc. for the assembly of the wind turbine. The residential kit is usually for a 64-foot turbine, however, Wilson said he lengthened his to a 100-foot turbine after his studies showed it would be more effective at their farm.

Wilson said the turbine was initially put up in March 2011, however it only lasted a week before the family had to take it down for a redesign.

“Originally, we tried fiber glass optic blades but they blew off in the series of storms we had this past spring,” Vicky Wilson said. “It was frustrating. We were really generating and the meter was going backwards and we were saying ‘yes, yes!’ Then it went down and we had a problem of getting supplies.”

It took nine months for the family to tweak their design and get the wind turbine back up. While down, the family also replaced a hand crank with an automatic lift to raise and lower the top of wind turbine for routine maintenance.

It was officially back up and running on Jan. 15 and, by Jan. 17, already showed 168kWh of energy generated ― an average of $17 in a three-day period.

“Once up and running, you really don’t have to do anything,” Wilson said. “Every six months you have to look at it (for maintenance).”

Eventually, they expect to save $1,200 in electricity. The Wilsons also participated in a federal rebate program that covered 30 percent of their cost. Wilson said it would still take about six years for the family’s wind turbine to generate enough energy to meet their costs of putting it up.

The Wilson family hopes to reduce their energy bill by $200 per month depending on available wind after successfully installing a 10kW wind turbine on the family farm. They predict to average about 2,000 kWh a month.

The wind turbine was the idea of Nathan Wilson of northwest Arkansas. The 30-year-old’s interest grew during his six years as an Air National Guardsman. It increased the more he studied until he decided to experiment with a residential wind turbine at his parents, Richard and Vicky Wilson’s, farm just north of Humphrey. It was welcome news to Vicky Wilson, who said the family has always been interested in ways to ‘go green.’

“I would like to be energy efficient,” Vicky Wilson said. “When I retire, I do not want that many bills. I would like to be a little more independent.”

The wind turbine enhances the family’s goal since they built their home in 2003 to be energy efficient with extra insulation and geothermal. The work also enhances Wilson’s work professionally. He previously started Winds of Changes, a company that performs energy audits, wind site assessments and wind generator installations for both residential and commercial customers.

The family hired Montgomery Gibbs of Siloam Springs’ Windpower Inc. for the assembly of the wind turbine. The residential kit is usually for a 64-foot turbine, however, Wilson said he lengthened his to a 100-foot turbine after his studies showed it would be more effective at their farm.

Wilson said the turbine was initially put up in March 2011, however it only lasted a week before the family had to take it down for a redesign.

“Originally, we tried fiber glass optic blades but they blew off in the series of storms we had this past spring,” Vicky Wilson said. “It was frustrating. We were really generating and the meter was going backwards and we were saying ‘yes, yes!’ Then it went down and we had a problem of getting supplies.”

It took nine months for the family to tweak their design and get the wind turbine back up. While down, the family also replaced a hand crank with an automatic lift to raise and lower the top of wind turbine for routine maintenance.

It was officially back up and running on Jan. 15 and, by Jan. 17, already showed 168kWh of energy generated ― an average of $17 in a three-day period.

“Once up and running, you really don’t have to do anything,” Wilson said. “Every six months you have to look at it (for maintenance).”

Eventually, they expect to save $1,200 in electricity. The Wilsons also participated in a federal rebate program that covered 30 percent of their cost. Wilson said it would still take about six years for the family’s wind turbine to generate enough energy to meet their costs of putting it up.