H.R. 2322, the Home and Farm Wind
Energy Systems Act, is cosponsored by Reps. Wes Watkins (R-Okla.), Frank
Lucas (R-Okla.), and Vernon Ehlers (R-Mich.). At a news conference on the
bill, Watts said he has spoken with President Bush about it and that he
hopes to see the proposal approved by Congress this fall.
Commented Watts, "We think it's
a great way to create an energy alternative for homes, for farms and small
businesses." The current cost of residential wind turbines, Watts
said, is hindering their sales. With a tax incentive to lower the up-front
cost of the machines, increased sales will result, helping manufacturers
to increase their volume and lower costs even further.
"Home owners, small businesses,
and farmers are squeezed by energy costs, especially in California and the
northeastern U.S.," Watts said. "Wind power, solar, nuclear, and
petroleum sources are all needed to solve the country's energy problem. We
need to raise the consciousness of the American people on the importance
of wind power."
Mike Bergey, president of Bergey
Windpower of Norman, Okla., a leading small turbine manufacturer,
welcomed Watts' bill. A typical 10-kilowatt residential wind turbine, he
said, costs about $32,000 and takes about 15 years to pay for itself in
terms of lowered electricity costs. As an example of what can be done if
the initial cost of the systems is reduced, Bergey pointed to the state of
California, which enacted a 50 percent rebate last year. Since the rebate
went into effect, Bergey said, 70 percent of his company's sales have been
to customers in the Golden State.
While annual sales of household wind
turbines are numbered in the hundreds of units, Bergey added, "there
are over 20 million homes in America with an acre or more of land that
would be suitable for one of these machines."
Bergey said similar legislation is
expected to be introduced soon in the U.S. Senate.
Randy Swisher, executive director of
Wind Energy Association (AWEA), applauded Watts' proposal. "Small
wind turbines have been overlooked for far too long as a potential
contributor to our nation's energy supply," Swisher said. "In
terms of energy produced per dollar expended, they are one of the best
options for homeowners and small businesses to consider. Hopefully, a tax
incentive will help make that happen."