Augusta farmer hopes wind turbine will swirl up others’ interest – Leader

December 15, 2012 by  
Filed under Green Energy News

AUGUSTA — The wind howls around Matt Gabler’s farm built along a hillside on South Rodell Road just west of this eastern Eau Claire County city.

“We always joked that this has been a windy place to live so it would be great for a wind turbine,” Gabler said Friday morning as he stood near a large crane poised to hoist a 10-kilowatt wind turbine that an hour later would stand 140 feet tall on his property.

Gabler, who said he has long been interested in renewable energy, expects the turbine will meet all of his farm’s energy needs and more.

He hopes it inspires others to consider renewable energy for themselves.

“Hopefully we’re just the tip of the iceberg as far as people doing this,” Gabler said.

The projects can’t be undertaken lightly, however.

Gabler’s project has been a two-year endeavor. He began by seeking an assessment from a wind company — Mike’s Wind Power Systems, the Conrath-based company that installed his windmill — to see if his site would work for a wind turbine.

Mike Tomaszewski, the company’s owner, said not every farm or operation is in the right spot to utilize wind energy, but it is a nice option for people who have the right conditions.

This year the company has installed similar wind turbines near Balsam Lake, Boyd and Merrill.

Gabler’s farm is visible from U.S. 12, so Tomaszewski expects the wind turbine will pique people’s curiosity.

Gabler said he had to learn what grants and other programs were available for a project like his wind turbine.

Grant money was important because the cost of the wind turbine and installation was $90,000, he said.

The farmer was able to secure $25,000 from the U.S. Department of Agriculture. He expects to be able to receive other renewable-energy tax credits.

Kevin Tuttle, a public information coordinator for the USDA, said the agency has programs that actively support rural renewable energy projects such as Gabler’s wind turbine.

Gabler expects the wind turbine will generate about 125 percent of the power he needs to operate his 350-acre farm. Eau Claire Energy Cooperative has agreed to buy Gabler’s excess power, which the co-op will put back on its power grid.

Gary Brecka, chief operating officer for Eau Claire Energy, said the cooperative has about a dozen other similar deals with clients who have solar panels or wind turbines.

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