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The Extended Benefits of Installing a Distributed Wind Turbine
Tech + Precision

The most important thing when considering adopting new technology into your operation is ensuring the transition makes enough economic sense to implement. On-site wind turbines are readily deployable and can be advantageous for operators across the U.S. However, the economic analysis can sometimes keep farmers from installing their own wind system.

Determining if the Investment Makes Sense

Working at a desk.jpgFirst off, you’ll want to consider what the machine will cost and the electrical production over the next 20–30 years. The production number may vary from the manufacturer's nameplate estimate based on the wind resource in your specific location. You will arrive at the price per kWh for the on-site electricity by dividing the the total turbine cost by the amount of kWhs the system is expected to produce.

Next, you’ll want to consider not only what you are paying on a $/kWh basis now but also what you can expect to be paying over the next 20-30 years. It is widely accepted that electric rates increase over time. However, the amount of increase varies by utility or cooperative.

Taking the average anticipated price for the kWhs over 20-year period and multiplying by the same expected amount of production from the turbine calculation above will give you an apples to apples comparison of the price for on-site and off-site electricity. After a turbine gets installed on-site, operators tend to find a series of additional benefits that they didn't expect that can add to their bottom line: product differentiation and  positive publicity

Product Differentiation

If you’re selling your product wholesale you’ve probably heard from some of your purchasers by now that not only do they want to focus on price but also keeping their products in line with consumer preferences. A growing number of the largest agricultural purchasers in the U.S., such as Unilever, have policies about procurement from producers that have elements of sustainability in their operations.

United Wind Vineyard Picture.jpg

United Wind installed a on-site turbine at Double A Vineyard in New York to power the operation’s facility.

If you’re selling your products on the retail level you may also find that incorporating wind energy into your labeling can effect for your products performance at the store shelf level.

According to a survey study published by Nielsen, 66 percent of people would be willing to pay a premium for products that are produced sustainably1. How much more do you ask? Sonoma Country Winegrower reports that some consumers are willing to pay an extra $7 per bottle of wine that is labeled certified sustainable2.

Installing a wind turbine on your operation can provide a visible display of your values to your community, stakeholders, and company employees.

It can show others that you are planning for the future of the business and committed to utilizing the resources available in the most strategic way. For example, on-site wind helps with the conservation of water resources that would have otherwise gone to electricity generation. The American Wind Energy Association (AWEA) estimates that electricity produced by traditional sources such coal, natural gas, or nuclear uses an estimated 1 to 2 trillion gallons of water each year to generate electricity3.

Wind Industry Water Consumption.jpgSource: AWEA U.S. Wind Industry Annual Market Report 2016. This graph illustrates the amount of water saved by wind turbine generated electricity

Moreover when the operator takes action like this it can often times serve as a signal and reminder to their employees to practice conservation in other parts of the operation ultimately saving the business more money.

How To Get Started:

United Wind installs custom on-site wind turbine solutions to save agricultural operations money. Customers are discovering that turbines offer additional benefits such as positive publicity and meeting evolving buyer and consumer preferences.

The WindLease™ program allows business owners to lock-in a fixed electricity rate for 20 to 30 years to save on operational costs.

By looking at just a couple of utility bills a United Wind representative can create a complementary wind report for your farming operation. As an added bonus, all Farmers Business Network℠ members are eligible for a special offer! To see the latest offer details, log into your FBN℠ account, go the FBN Direct page and click the Technology section to find United Wind's offer. 

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Blog post was contributed by United Wind, a small-scale wind turbine company, which is available on FBN Direct Marketplace. WindLease™ is a trademark of United Wind. © 2016 United Wind Inc. All rights reserved.

1. (2015), The sustainability imperative, Nielsen, Web.

2. Quackenbush, J. (2017), 'Sustainable' Sonoma wine could fetch $7-a-bottle more, survey says, Sonoma County Winegrowers, Web.

3. (2016), AWEA U.S. Wind Industry Annual Market Report 2016, American Wind Energy Association, Web.

The views expressed in this article are the author's alone and not those of Farmer's Business Network, Inc., its affiliates or members.

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