Residential wind systems gain popularity

It’s somewhat ironic, considering all the NIMBY opposition to wind farms, that more and more consumers are seeking out wind power for, well, their back yards. Three-bladed turbines are popping up at personal abodes across the country, with the potential to save consumers 30 to 90 percent on their electric bills. Some models can be efficient in wind speeds as low as nine miles per hour, and the turbines are no noisier than an air conditioner. Still, some clean-energy seekers face opposition from Not-In-Your-Back-Yard-Either types who just shudder to find a turbine in their line of sight. They’re just so … turbiney! Zoning rules, building-height limitations, and price can also be a deterrent; Southwest Windpower’s 1.8-kilowatt Skystream system starts at $8,500 fully installed, while Abundant Renewable Energy’s 10-kw ARE442 can run up to $80,000 with installation. However, many backyard-wind enthusiasts recoup their investment within a few years, leaving plenty to spend on garden gnomes.