skip to content
Primary navigation
Feature image for

Wind Energy

Wind is an increasingly significant source of energy in Minnesota. The state's many wind farms take advantage of large areas of open prairie as a source of renewable energy. As a major producer of wind energy, Minnesota ranks in the top 10 in the nation for generating energy from wind. In 2014, wind energy supplied about 16% of electricity generated in Minnesota.

Utilizing wind energy

You can purchase a portion or all of your electricity from wind energy from your utility via a green pricing program. You may need to pay a little more than your existing energy rates.  Some utility programs also provide added energy cost certainty with a credit for the cost of fossil fuels that would otherwise be used to generate electricity.

Subscribing to a utility green power program effectively increases the amount of renewable energy that a utility must procure above and beyond the minimum Renewable Energy Standard. The U.S. Department of Energy tracks current pricing for utility green power programs with links for more program information and to subscribe.

The Minnesota Department of Commerce reviews utility green pricing programs to verify that customer green pricing purchases are not double counted toward renewable energy standards or other programs.

Make your own wind energy system

Developing an on-site wind energy project on one’s property is a more tangible and visible option for sourcing renewable energy.  This option also comes with more significant effort and long-term commitment.  If you are considering a new wind energy system, "Guidelines and Resources for Distributed Wind Projects" is a good place to start.

The information and resources below will help in the planning and implementation of distributed wind energy projects (under 100 kW) at homes, farms, and businesses.

Guidelines and Resources for Distributed Wind Projects

  • The following is a list of guidelines and resources for anyone considering a wind energy system:
  • Check local zoning ordinances before installing a turbine (no ordinance? see the DWEA wind zoning resource center)

  • Consider a turbine with independently verified performance from the Interstate Turbine Advisory Council Unified List of Wind Turbines

  • Call at least three dealers/installers for price quotes on comparable systems. Locate your latest electric bill to refer to, as the installer will likely ask you up-front how much energy you currently use on a monthly basis.

Questions to ask a renewable energy dealer or installer

  • What tools or methods does the dealer or installer use to assess the wind resource? [note: see wind resource assessment and additional siting considerations, below]

  • How long has the dealer/installer been doing wind turbine installations? What sort of training does the installer have on the proposed wind turbine model?

  • How many turbines have been installed (especially this model)? Are they still running? How much annual energy do the previously installed turbines produce?

  • Are existing customers satisfied with the wind turbine installation process? Are they happy with their wind turbines? Can the dealer/installer provide references?

  • What is the maintenance schedule? How often does the turbine require routine maintenance? Does the installer provide a maintenance service? What are typical maintenance costs for routine and unplanned maintenance? Is there a charge for travel time? Is there a minimum fee? How long does it usually take to get replacement parts? How long does it take to schedule a service visit?

  • What are the terms of the contract or warranty (get these in writing)? Does the warranty cover both parts and labor? Does the warranty cover the entire system or are there separate warranties for the turbine, tower, inverter/controller, etc.?

Wind resource assessment and additional siting considerations, see:

Financial Incentive Information (incentive eligibility may vary depending on tax status and other factors), for details see: (DSIRE) Database of State Incentives for Renewables and Efficiency

Minnesota Interconnection Requirements: 2004 PUC ruling on Interconnection Standards (.pdf) (E-999/CI-01-1023)

  • Process – Attachment 1

  • Requirements – Attachment 2

  • Application – Attachment 3

  • Engineering Data Submittal – Attachment 4

  • Agreement – Attachment 5

Hiring a Renewable Energy Contractor 

Solar, wind, and other renewables may not be the lowest cost way to reduce your energy bills. Optimize returns on your renewable energy system by investing in energy efficiency first. An energy audit is a good first step and is available through many utilities at a discounted price. After energy efficiency measures are taken, renewable energy may make sense for you as a clean energy source. The following questions may help you begin the conversation with a renewable energy professional. You will get the most out of the discussion if you do some initial homework. 

To view Minnesota installer companies on a map, visit http://installermap.mncerts.org. Also see http://www.thecleanenergybuilder.org for supplemental information.

Questions to ask a Renewable Energy Installer:

  • What is included in a solar or wind site assessment? How will I know if my site is appropriate?

  • Do you perform an energy use evaluation to help me save energy or do you have suggestions about where to seek this service?

  • Is the installer who will be performing the work NABCEP (North American Board of Certified Energy Practitioners) certified?

  • Approximately how much energy will the system produce and what portion of energy use might I expect the system to offset annually? This is also known as the solar fraction or wind fraction.

  • Will the system measure and track energy production? How do I manage loads in order to achieve the predicted solar/wind fraction?

  • What is the current monetary value of the energy saved/generated?

  • Does your bid reflect the total cost of the system? Are structural engineering considerations included? Under what circumstances will I be charged extra for unanticipated costs? What incentives are available to offset the system cost? Who handles the paperwork for incentives?

  • Will you as be responsible for obtaining the appropriate permits? (For example, building, plumbing, electrical, zoning, as required by the local jurisdiction.)

  • Do you provide a maintenance or service warranty? How do you handle manufacturer warranties? What maintenance is recommended? How long can I expect the system to last?

  • How long have you been in business? How many installations have you done? Do you have references I can contact? Photos of previous installations?

  • When could the installation begin? From start to finish, including utility or permit approvals, how long might the installation take? (Permitting and incentive application processing vary by location.)

  • For wind and solar electric: Do you work with my electric utility to complete grid interconnection? Are there interconnection costs? (Utility interconnection costs and approval time vary.)

  • Will you provide an owner’s manual upon commissioning the system?

  • If there is a blackout, what options do I have for backup power and how much do they cost?

It is a good idea to speak to more than one contractor before making a final decision. As with any building improvement, it is important that you are comfortable with your contractor. Be sure that each bid specifies system type and size, expected energy production, maintenance requirements, and installed cost.

Disclaimer: The resources listed above are not an endorsement by the Minnesota Department of Commerce. Consumers are advised to perform due diligence in selecting a contractor such as seeking references, verifying licensing, etc.

Wind Speed Verification Tool

This interactive application identifies the wind speed for a specific Minnesota location at a 30 meter elevation above ground level, based on data used for the 2006 wind map. This data should be used as a general guideline for screening purposes only. Specific site conditions that affect wind speed should be evaluated by a trained wind site assessor before investing in a small wind turbine.

Troubleshooting and Tips on Finding Site Coordinates

Tips and resources to help locate site coordinates:

  • The Wind Speed Verification Tool should return a wind speed for any geographic coordinate within Minnesota. Enter latitude and longitude in decimal-degree format only (e.g. N 44.955, W 93.102). Do not use negative numbers.

  • For the state of Minnesota, latitude ranges from 43.57 to 49.38 degrees north. Longitude ranges from 89.57 to 97.20 degrees west.

  • A zip code is required to locate an address. The application may not be able to locate all addresses in the state.

  • If the wind speed verification tool can't locate the address of the property, but you know where the property is, try Google Maps. Right click on the location on the map and select "What's Here?" to get lat/long coordinates. Note: use the longitude number without the negative sign.

Other mapping sites include:

Additional Resources

  • Minnesota Distributed Wind Webinars
    These webinars cover a broad range of topics on market developments and best practices, including turbine selection, performance estimation, site assessment, U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) grant application process, the distributed wind energy supply chain, and market participants in Minnesota.

  • Search Renewable Energy Installers Directory 
    A directory called Clean Energy Builder is provided by Clean Energy Resource Teams (CERTS) to find companies in Minnesota that can help you plan, implement and manage clean energy projects.

  • Get Added to Renewable Energy Installers Directory
    A completely free service provided by Clean Energy Resource Teams (CERTS) to include your company in the online directory.

Frequently Asked Questions

back to top