Blowing In The Wind—Power Your Small Business With Wind

Not long ago, a company bought up our local ice rink and turned it into a charter school. In Texas, we don’t have a lot of ice. Demand has increased and supply has decreased, which means it costs more to play hockey in central Texas. It also means 7 am practice times for little kids.

You can imagine the grumblings about the new school that took out not one but two sheets of ice, leaving us with just one. But, I watched the progression of the construction and was interested to see this weird silver structure that looked like a large solid wind chime twirling around on top of the building. This one serves to circulate air in the school, but there are others that look just like it that are called vertical axis wind turbines. Those wind turbines are used to power businesses throughout the country.

Why Wind?

Wind turbines will lower your monthly energy costs eventually paying for itself. In addition to adding to your bottom line, it helps clean the air and move us toward energy independence.

There are a surprising number of businesses that sell small wind generators. Solar and Wind Power offer several options for low and high wind conditions.

There are the vertical axis kind that spin around and come in a variety of shapes and sizes. There is also the traditional-looking wind turbine with blades that you may have seen dotting rural landscapes. For small businesses and homes, these come in much smaller sizes.

Solar and Wind Power offers a list of questions to ask yourself before you make the investment, visit http://windustry.org/home-and-farm-scale-wind/planning-small-wind-project before you decide.

Federal Programs

Under the USDA-Biorefinery Assistance Program, an individual, entity, Indian tribe, state or local governments, corporations, farm cooperative organizers and others are eligible for up to a 90 percent loan on loans up to $125 million. Eligible biofuels include: Biofuel derived from cellulose, hemicellulose, or lignin, or other fuels derived from cellulose; biofuel derived from sugar, or starch, excluding ethanol derived from corn kernel starch; biofuel derived from waste material, including crop residue, vegetative waste material, animal waste, food waste, and yard waste; diesel fuel derived from renewable biomass, including vegetable oil and animal fat; and biogas, including landfill gas and sewage waste treatment gas, produced through the conversion of organic matter from renewable biomass.

Under the Modified Accelerated Cost-Recovery System (MACRS) + Bonus Depreciation, businesses can recover investments in certain property through depreciation deductions. Eligible renewable technologies include: wind, solar water heat, solar space heat, solar thermal electric, solar thermal process heat, photovoltaics, landfill gas, biomass, geothermal electric, fuel cells, geothermal heat pumps, municipal solid waste, CHP/Cogeneration, solar hybrid lighting, anaerobic digestions, fuel cells using renewable fuels, microturbines, and geothermal direct-use.

To qualify for the depreciation, a project must meet the following criteria: the property must have a recovery period of 20 years or less under normal federal tax depreciation rules; the original use of the property must commence with the taxpayer claiming the deduction; the property generally must have been acquired during the period from 2008-2012; and the property must have been placed between 2008-2012. Obviously, this deadline is quickly approaching, but there are many other incentives out there such as the energy-efficient commercial buildings tax deduction which expires in December 2013.

There is also the Repowering Assistance Biorefinery Program for those that create landfill gas, biomass, municipal solid waste, ethanol, or biodiesel energy. And, the rural energy for America Program grant that covers up to 25 percent of the cost.

For more information on incentives for renewable energy, visit the Database for State Incentives for Renewables & Efficiency at www.dsireusa.org.

Story by Jennifer Taylor

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