The Oregon Energy Trust, in collaboration with NW SEED, developed a Community Wind guidebook in 2006. This 106-page book introduces the basic concepts behind community wind development and is available on the Energy Trust of Oregon web site.
Do your homework! Due diligence means that you have looked at a particular investment from as many angles as possible to best understand the risks, rewards, and opportunity costs. Lenders, investors, contractors, and equipment suppliers will be much more willing to work with you if you can demonstrate that you know the lingo and understand the industry.
Bundling several wind energy projects together so that they are treated as one larger project (when purchasing turbines, interconnecting, or maintaining a project, for example,) in order to spread out costs over more turbines or projects. This can have the effect of improving project economics.
Windustry Wind Project Calculator
The Windustry Wind Project Calculator was designed by Alice Orrell, Alice Orrell Consulting, and Windustry for the Community Wind Toolbox.
The Wind Project Calculator was developed to assist in performing cash flow modeling for community wind projects. You will need to enter specific information about the type of turbine you are considering, the estimated annual average wind speed, information about electricity use and electric rates, and information about financing and income taxes. The program will estimate the cash flows for investing in a wind turbine and the rate of return on the cash investments.
Use this calculator in conjunction with software from the Idaho National Laboratory. The software from Idaho National Laboratory is designed to combine validated wind resource data with wind turbine power curves to calculate average wind speed, estimated annual energy production, and capacity factor. Also included with the software is a program to help you create a wind rose for your site. The software is available at www.inl.gov/wind/software/
- National Renewable Energy Laboratory's Wind Energy Finance Application (You'll need to set up a username and password, but there's no charge.)
Wind energy offers many financial, environmental, and social benefits to the communities and individuals who choose to get involved with it. Developing a wind project, however, can be a time-consuming and complex process. Before beginning, you will want to familiarize yourself with all of the necessary steps and gain a solid understanding of the elements of a wind project.
A Comparative Analysis of Business Structures Suitable for Farmer-Owned Wind Power Projects in the United States (November 2004) was prepared for the Wind & Hydropower Technologies Program, U.S. Department of Energy, by Mark Bolinger and Ryan Wise.
For years, farmers in the United States have looked with envy on their European counterparts' ability to profitably farm the wind through ownership of distributed, utility-scale wind projects. Only within the past few years, however, has farmer- or community-owned wind power development become a reality in the United States. The primary hurdle to this type of development in the United States has been devising and implementing suitable business and legal structures that enable such projects to take advantage of tax-based federal incentives for wind power. This article discusses the limitations of such incentives in supporting farmer- or community-owned wind projects, describes four ownership structures that potentially overcome such limitations, and finally conducts comparative financial analysis on those four structures, using as an example a hypothetical 1.5 MW farmer-owned project located in the state of Oregon.