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Sun And Wind For Electricity

January 10, 2012, 10:04 PM by Kellee Azar

Sun And Wind For Electricity
BRANDON, SD - You might expect to find wind turbines in a wide-open field, not someone's backyard.  For Charlie Cross, a retired Air Force helicopter pilot, accepting what is considered the norm for others is not how he works.

"How things work and how to make them better is part of my mind set," Cross said. "I looked at my electric bill and thought I can do something about this."

An idea quickly blew into his mind to keep those bills from spinning out of control.

"I am now the primary provider of my electricity. What you see now is being generated by the sun. And my electrical provider is my secondary back up provider," Cross said.

Cross got together with Robert Westall, the President of Cleaner Greener Energies, to get solar panels and a wind turbine installed at his house.

While the solar panels were easy to get and install in Brandon, the turbine proved a little more challenging.

"We went to the city planning board to get an ordinance passed. Currently in the state there are only a handful of communities that have residential wind ordinances," Westall said.

After getting the city on board, installing the turbine was a breeze and turned out to be exactly what Cross had hoped for.

"It's running; it's doing exactly what I want it to do.  So, I'm happy," Cross said.

Exactly what he wanted it to do was power his home without having to rely on the electric company.

"Ninety percent of the switches that were being powered by standard rate are now being powered by solar power," Cross said.

The biggest hurdle Cross feels he faces is the myths about wind turbines.

"'You're going to kill the birds.' No ma'am, we aren't going to kill the birds.  You kill more birds in cars than you do in my wind turbine. 'It's going to make so much noise.' You can't hear it," Cross said.

Misconceptions like these are the reason Cross feels so many people are apprehensive to the idea of wind turbines in their backyard.  And it's not really a familiar thing to most. 

"It's just something you don't see here. But you go out to one of the coasts and it's all over the place," Westall said.

For Cleaner Greener Energies, solar panels and wind turbines seem to be taking off.

"Yeah, as far as both solar and residential turbines, we are getting calls everyday," Westall said.

Once consumers see the changes and gain the confidence, wind turbines could be a normal thing in neighborhoods.

"It's just a growth as they see their electric bills, and as they see the benefits, then they will begin to add on.  It's a matter of buyer confidence in the technology," Cross said. 

In order to get these turbines in Sioux Falls and other cities, Westall says it just takes one person, just like Cross in Brandon. 

"Really what it takes is the first person to apply a residential permit and then they go into drafting the ordinance," Westall said.

Cross has had his solar panels up and running for just more than a year now.  The turbine has been up for just a few weeks.

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