1. What is a community wind farm?
Community-owned, small-scale wind has the potential to replace dirtier energy, like coal plants. Through community ownership of the wind power resources, this ‘distributed’ energy provides local independence from grid fluctuations and energy price spikes, plus green jobs, to boot.
According to Windustry, a non-profit clean energy advocacy organization, ‘community wind’ is defined as:
Locally owned, commercial-scale wind projects that optimize local benefits. Locally owned means that one or more members of the local community has a significant direct financial stake in the project other than through land lease payments, tax revenue, or other payments in lieu of taxes. The term “community wind” refers to the method and intention of development rather than the size of the project.
The return on investment for owners of community wind projects, based on a track record of 20+ years, tends to be 15-20% per year, according to Clint Wilder, author of The Clean Tech Revolution. Not exactly the kind of stuff to make a venture capitalist drool, but consistent returns for communities with few resources. Community wind can help ‘save the family farm’, provide local jobs, empower the community, and help prevent pollution and global warming.
2. What required knowledge or skills are necessary?
This is a large-scale project, with many different roles for entrepreneurs and other community members. Training is available in maintenance (one of the local green collar jobs created by community wind), operations, and planning through a variety of non-governmental organizations.
A major necessity for this kind of business is, of course, wind. Locations in Minnesota, the Dakotas and many other areas are terrific for a business of this kind. Central Florida, however, with its consistent hot, muggy, and wind-free days, and locations like it, are simply not good locations for this kind of business. See this map to get an idea of your area’s potential, at least in the U.S.
You’ll need to get savvy about current Federal and State government regulations if you intend to sell the power rather than use it all in your community. Much of economics involved in community wind farms depend upon such regulations which can determine everything from taxes, to rebates, to whether you can even sell electricity you don’t use back to the power company, and if you can, then at what price.
3. How much money is required to start?
$$$-$$$$$ (on a scale of $ to $$$$$)
4. What is the income potential?
$$$-$$$$$ (on a scale of $ to $$$$$)
5. What is the best location for a community wind farm?
Urban (fair/poor), semi-urban (fair/poor), suburbs (fair/poor), rural (best). There are very small-scale projects that can be done on, say, an apartment building in an urban setting, but their potential is typically far less than the potential of those projects set up in rural areas with vast wind resources.
6. The best questions to ask yourself to find out if this business is right for you (if you can answer yes to all three, this business might be for you):
Do you live in a good wind area?
Do you have a group of people interested in starting a community wind project (this one is definitely not a solo venture, like many of our other green businesses)?
Are you able to commit to a project that may take a year or more to get off the ground?
Are you tolerant of quickly changing market conditions largely shaped by government regulation and policy?
Interested in starting one in your community? Where do you begin? What permits do you need? Who is your target customer? How do you find them? What is the best use of your limited advertising dollars? What’s the best way to attract a great employee or volunteer? What does an average day look like? What strategic tips do veteran eco-entrepreneurs suggest for startups like you?
There’s a lot to think about. Rest easy. Our mission is to help you succeed, so drop us a line (Info@GreenBusinessVillage.com). We’ll get you a business planning document to get you on your way for ONLY $499! We also guarantee our work, so if you are not satisfied, you get your money back!*
Take a look at a sample table of contents and a few sample excerpts from similar plans here. In essence, we’ll provide you the What, When, Where, and How…you provide the Who!
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