News / USA

Florida Man Installs Wind Turbine on His Property

Amid the recent economic downturn, demand in the U.S. is rising for small wind turbines to power people's homes. The American Wind Energy Association says sales of such turbines rose 15 percent in 2009. One man in Florida is generating his own power in order to cut his electricity bills.

A wind turbine sits on top of a small hill, and generates electricity for a nearby home.

Jim Dotson says he had the turbine installed last year and it is saving his family money.

"We figured out that we could about cut our electric bill in half, and that's what we've done pretty consistently," he  said.

Dotson uses his computer to monitor the amount of electricity his turbine is generating.

He says sometimes it generates more power than he needs. He then sells the excess electricity to his local power company.

"Especially in the economic times that we're in right now, any time you can be more self-sufficient, it's a good thing," he noted.

But Dotson lives in Florida, a state with very few wind-power installations compared to other parts of the country.

Frank Leslie says Florida is not windy enough to make turbines viable
Frank Leslie says Florida is not windy enough to make turbines viable

Frank Leslie, an adjunct professor with the Department of Marine and Environmental Systems at the Florida Institute of Technology, says scientists often view Florida as not windy enough to make turbines viable.

"The winds are very low. The southeast is not really blessed with high winds that one can extract energy from," Leslie explained.

And the cost of installing a small turbine is high - up to $22,000.

"While the wind is free, the conversion of wind power into electrical power costs money," he noted.

Leslie says Florida has a breezy coastline, but many parts are usually calm.

Wind only produces about two percent of America's electricity needs
Wind only produces about two percent of America's electricity needs

California, Texas and Iowa have the largest wind power generating capacity in the United States. This wind farm near San Francisco is one of the largest in the world with more than 4,000 turbines.  

The U.S. government says wind only produces about two percent of America's electricity demand, compared to 25 percent in Denmark and eight percent in Germany and Spain.

Still, Jim Dotson says he is confident he can continue to power his Florida home by harnessing the wind.

And he says he is even raising money to pay for a wind turbine to power a school in the west African nation of Burkina Faso.

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