SALEM, Ohio — One night in May, Greg Courtney woke up to the sound of wind gusting around his house and rattling his windows.
It billowed across his yard going at least 20 miles per hour, but Courtney wasn’t worried. In fact, it made him smile.
When the wind blows, he makes money.
Courtney recently installed a 70-foot wind turbine on his property in Salem, Ohio. When winds reach 8 miles per hour, the turbine starts churning and electricity starts forming.
He anticipates his turbine will cut his monthly electric bill from $190 to $95. If all goes well, he’s hoping to eventually cut costs even more.
“My idea is I’m going to put another one up and I don’t think I’ll have an electric bill then,” he said.
Through an arrangement with Ohio Edison, Courtney can store the electric produced by his turbine in the grid. He doesn’t need batteries for storage and there are no worries if the turbine produces more electricity than he needs.
“There have been days we’ve made more electric than we’ve used,” he said.
When that happens, Courtney simply receives credits that can be used at a later time.
Courtney invested about $9,300 in his turbine — a Skystream 3.7 — and installed it himself over the course of one week.
“To actually flip the switch and see it working was an incredible thing,” he said.
The turbines, which are designed primarily for residential use, cost about $12,000 installed.
The Ohio Department of Development offers a grant to cover 50 percent of the costs associated with such projects.
Through tax credits and savings on electric, a wind turbine will usually pay for itself in about five years, according to Courtney.
Good idea. Two common concerns with turbines are noise and bird deaths, but Courtney said he hasn’t experienced either.
“The only time you can hear it is when you’re standing right under it,” he said, noting it makes a soft whining noise as the propellers make their 12-foot sweep.
As for bird deaths, he hasn’t seen any during the weeks his turbine has been running.
Despite the upfront costs and the time it takes to get a turbine up and running, Courtney said the result is worth the effort.
“I can’t see one negative thing about these,” he said.
Courtney discovered the world of wind energy by accident late last year. He was researching photovoltaic shingles for his home when he stumbled onto some information about the turbines.
He thought the idea made sense and eventually scheduled a trip to Maryland to see a horse farm that’s run solely on the power of three wind turbines.
“I was just immediately sold on them,” he said.
While the wind turbines are environmentally friendly, Courtney said the cost savings to home owners is just as important. And he likes having his own source of energy.
“If you can be self-dependent in your home, that’s a bunch of security,” he said.