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DER can help ensure small- and medium-sized wind turbine success


The Minnesota Department of Commerce, Division of Energy Resources (DER) can provide guidance to help ensure that small- and medium-sized wind turbine customers get what they bargain for. The division encourages consumers to conduct due diligence before purchasing and installing a wind energy system. Specialists from DER can answer questions from citizens considering a wind turbine system.

Renewable energy is an emerging and fast-growing industry in Minnesota, and wind is an important piece of that pie. Utility-scale wind generated 14.3 percent of Minnesota’s electricity in 2012, seventh highest among all states. Consumers considering a small (less than 40 kW) or medium (40 to 100 kW) sized turbine can take steps to make sure that they receive a turbine that meets industry standards and that the contractor they choose is reputable. The following tips should help:

  • Get a site assessment from an independent wind assessor to ensure that your location is suitable to harvest wind (a list of assessors can be found at thecleanenergybuilder.com and mreacsa.org). The assessor will identify the best location for turbine placement. The Division of Energy Resources (DER) does not recommend a wind turbine in areas with average wind speeds below 12 mph. Wind speed maps are available on the DER website to provide an initial indication if your location is a feasible site.
  • Select an experienced wind turbine installer (A listing of installers can be found at thecleanenergybuilder.com) Get bids from at least two installers; get references and proof of “completed” projects by the installer; check the Better Business Bureau and online sources for any complaints or actions against the installer; get written itemized estimates; and get written proposals specifying project costs, model numbers, job schedule, and warranty information. The installer should work with your electric utility on an interconnection application, if applicable, and secure all required permits.
  • Choose a turbine listed on the Interstate Turbine Advisory Council (ITAC) Unified List of small- and medium-sized wind turbines to help ensure reliability. ITAC-approved turbines are reviewed carefully against technical, safety, warranty, and customer service criteria in collaboration with the Distributed Wind Energy Association.
  • Identify financial incentives for installing a wind turbine. A federal Residential Renewable Energy Tax Credit of 30 percent of installation expenses is available through 2016. For an up-to-date list of all incentives, including federal incentives, grants and loans from the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Rural Energy America Program, utility rebates, state tax incentives, and more, check the Database of State Incentives for Renewables and Efficiency at www.dsireusa.org.

For information on wind turbine projects, visit the wind section of the Division of Energy Resources website or the Distributed Wind Energy Association website at www.distributedwind.org. Questions about Minnesota wind projects can be directed to energy information staff at energy.info@state.mn.us or 651-539-1886 or 1-800-657-3710.