Wind Energy Conference Gives Ideas on Lowering Electric Bills

Daniel J. Meyer, agricultural engineering field specialist

Situation

There are businesses, including agriculture, where high electric bills are normal throughout the year. It is difficult to bypass electricity for running many daily chores. Electric-run motors are efficient and more dependable than running engines or using people to do the labor. Long-day lighting in dairy barns is cost efficient according to research. Heat lamps are needed in swine farrowing facilities to keep pigs warm. Energy-audits can be done to help improve energy efficiency. The problem is what can be done to greatly reduce electric bills and be environmentally-minded at the same time.

Response

Extension’s response was to coordinate a regional wind energy conference to help homeowners and businesses, including agriculture, to evaluate wind energy today and explore the potential for the future. A variety of speakers were invited to address all aspects of wind generators – electric companies, educational wind energy specialists, wind turbine owners, and grant/loan agency people. The conference was followed by a tour to 10-kilowatt wind-generator operating at a nearby residence in Decorah. The conference was videotaped.

Impact

A total of 103 people (no speakers or extension people included) attended a wind energy conference on Aug. 18, in Decorah at the Winneshiek Hotel. The audience included swine, dairy and grain farmers, school teachers, small acreage owners, utility managers, engineering consultants, and land owners. In the 50 evaluations completed, 94% said the information was useful for their situation.

A total of 88% said the speakers were prepared and knowledgeable. Comments included “we helped people understand wind power, gave ballpark idea of costs, provided excellent overview of wind energy in Iowa, helped understand what is available, showed steps needed to proceed with a project, and provided places to search for information.”
For the answer to the question on what they plan to do as a result of the conference, 58% said they would investigate further into wind generators, 20% said they would save the information for later and 6% said they would do nothing. Others commented we will “perhaps invest, study some companies, meet with Iowa Energy, look into ways I can promote & implement wind generation in Iowa and I’m already planning my system”. In the two weeks after the conference 13 requests have come in for the videotape and copies of talks.

Page last updated: July 9, 2006
Page maintained by Linda Schultz, lschultz@iastate.edu