Start here to find out what questions you should ask, how to understand the process and how to choose a solar contractor.
Most wind systems need a generator, inverter, tower and other smaller components. The average wind speed should be above 10 mph and wind generators usually need to be at least 30 feet above buildings, trees and other obstacles to eliminate turbulence.
Since zoning laws may apply, small wind systems are rarely suitable for urban areas. Most require at least an acre of land.
A wind generator with an inverter will cost $2.50 to $3 per watt, not including installation or tower costs. The American Wind Energy Association is a good resource for small wind energy systems.
To learn about incentives, tax credits and other resources for small or commercial-scale wind programs, see Energy Trust’s Wind Power program.
Hydroelectric systems are cost effective relative to other types of renewable generation. They typically run nonstop, so a small generator can produce a lot of power.
Hydropower is dependent on water flow rates — gallons per minute — and “fall,” or the distance in feet that the water drops. Hydroelectric generators for Net Metering usually need a minimum flow of 12 GPM and a minimum fall of 3 feet. If you have more than 3 feet of fall, the minimum flow can be lower.
Energy Trust provides project support, including help with feasibility studies, and information about any available incentives and tax credits. The State of Oregon provides low-interest loans on hydro projects for individuals through its Energy Loan Program.
- Micro-hydroelectric systems from the Oregon Department of Energy
- Intro to Hydropower from Home Power Magazine
- Guidebooks and applications from the Oregon Water Resources Department
- Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife
Consult with this agency in determining the ultimate design and operation of your system.
Check Energy Trust for help with other self-generation, too, including geothermal energy.