Northern Power Systems Corp, an innovator in wind-turbine technology for over 40 years, has seen a surge of interest in wind power in distributed energy (behind-the-meter, on-site power generation) applications in the U.S., as the performance and financial benefits of field installations surpass user expectations.
Recently, the advantages of wind power have become evident in dairy and farming operations, which are energy-intensive and can often leverage significant on-site wind resources. Northern Power’s 100-kilowatt (kW) wind turbines are right-sized for most farming operations, and they have become more accessible thanks to lower installation costs and improved productivity.
“With more financing options than ever before, it is now easy and affordable for organizations that use significant amounts of energy to generate their own electricity from the wind, support operations, take control of their energy future, and directly benefit the bottom line,” said Ciel Caldwell, President of Northern Power Systems.
For example, Dan Miller, owner of Corfu, New York-based Miller Sonshine Acres Farm, took advantage of incentives to install two Northern Power 100-kW turbines on his farm. When Miller’s first turbine began running, the farm was a bustling dairy operation with over 2,800 milking cows in five different locations.
Thanks to remote net metering in New York, project developer Niagara Wind and Solar (NWS) was able to site a turbine in the windiest part of Miller’s farm and power all meters remotely. Following this first installation in December 2014, Miller’s monthly electric bills dropped by 65%. Those impressive results spurred him to install a second turbine, which has been operational since December 2016.
Within the first six months of 2017, Miller’s two turbines produced over 180,000 kilowatt-hours of energy. “I’m concerned about climate change and see the value in renewable energy,” said Miller, “but the bottom line is, I thought I could save some money — and this has proven to be a great way to do that.”
The Small Wind Turbine program offered by the New York State Energy Research and Development Authority (NYSERDA) was crucial in supporting the use of renewable energy at Miller Sonshine Acres farm. Alicia Barton, NYSERDA President and CEO, said, “Wind and other renewable energy resources are vital to New York achieving Governor Cuomo’s nation-leading energy goals. We commend Miller Sonshine Acres Farm and all of its partners for taking a leadership role in showing how farms and other local organizations can use renewable energy to help lower operating costs and create a cleaner and healthier environment for the local community.”
The USDA’s Rural Energy for America Program (REAP) also supported Miller Farm’s wind power installations. “REAP helps farm operators and rural small businesses make long-term investments in renewable energy systems, including farm-scale wind turbines,” said Scott Collins, Acting State Director for USDA Rural Development in New York. “We are pleased to assist the Miller family’s efforts to reduce and stabilize their electricity costs for many years to come.”