SMALL WIND TO BE BIG BUSINESS IN MICHIGAN
The Swift Wind Turbine is what the wind industry calls “small” wind. It is designed for individual residential and commercial structures, not for large utility-scale wind farm installations.
Small wind has become big business as people all over the U.S. and all over the world look for ways to make their own electricity.
Small wind is one of the New Energy products Michigan Governor Jennifer Granholm risked her political legacy on when she campaigned her heart out to get the state to pass a Renewable Electricity Standard (RES) and transition to a New Energy economy.
Granholm fervently believes making products like the Swift Wind Turbine is Michigan’s economic future.
Governor Granholm: "It's all about jobs in the wake of a very challenging time in the auto sector…"
Even before the current financial crisis, Michigan’s once great auto industry and its Big 3 automakers were struggling. A move to New Energy offers the state a fresh start and, at the same time, an opportunity to do what it does best – manufacturing.
Granholm pushed through an RES requiring the state’s utilities to obtain 10% of their power from New Energy sources – like wind power – by 2015.
Michigan’s New Energy provision also includes “net metering,” allowing residents and small businesses to be remunerated for the energy they send to the grid from systems like the Swift Wind Turbine.
The recent extension of federal tax credits for small wind systems adds to the Swift’s value.
These policy actions have given businesses like Cascade Engineering a needed boost.
Cascade’s small turbine is aimed at the consumer market and designed for business and residential locations. Its parts are made from automotive plastics. It is engineered to be productive and efficient yet no louder than 35 decibels, the noise of a whisper.
Jessica Lehti, marketing manager, Cascade Engineering: "We're allowing [homeowners] an on-site renewable solution for their home, whether in the city or [in the country]…[and helping businesses] offset those peak loads [of electricity demand], generate on-site renewable energy, and demonstrate their commitment…"
Governor Granholm has already demonstrated her commitment. Now its time for the people of her state to step up.
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Governor in Muskegon to help launch wind-turbine business
Dave Alexander, October 27, 2008 (The Muskegon Chronicle)
Tilting at Windmills: Is Small-Scale Turbine Power Viable – Or Just an Illusion? A new plastic turbine can capture energy from the wind gusting over your roof
David Biello, October 28, 2008 (Scientific American)
Jennifer Granholm, Governor, Michigan; Cascade Engineering (Fred Keller, President and Michael Ford, renewable energy business unit head); Renewable Devices; Bauer Power Inc.
Granholm was in Muskegon to inaugurate the manufacturing plant for the Swift Wind Turbine, a small wind product to be made by a former auto industry manufacturer.
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- Cascade hopes to sell ~2,000 Swift units in 2009.
- The first commerical installation of the Swift Turbine was earlier this year at Muskegon’s Frauenthal Center for the Performing Arts.
- Cascade Engineering is based in Kentwood, Michigan, and has locations worldwide.
- Renewable Devices is based in Edinburgh, Scotland.
- The Frauenthal Center for the Performing Arts, the site of the 1st Swift Turbione installation is downtown Muskegon.
- Bauer Power Inc. is based in Wayland, Michigan.
- The Swift Wind Turbine was developed by Cascade Engineering in conjunction with Renewable Devices.
- Cascade redeveloped the Swift design developed in Scotland, changing the circular blades from carbon-fiber material to injection molded plastic parts. It made the turbine as quiet as “a whisper” and virtually eliminated bird kill issues.
- The Swift Wind Turbine has a 1.5-kilowatt capacity and costs ~$10,000 (though with installation the cost varies) and should last 20 years. Residential units earn a $1,000 federal tax credit and commercial units earn $4,000.
- It generates ~20% of the electricity for a typical 3,000-square-foot residential home (depending on wind). It requires a minimum 8 mph wind and functions in winds up to 40 mph. Its 8-foot diameter rotor easily affixed to most houses/businesses.
- The Swift at the Frauenthal Center has a real-time, flat-panel display of its ongoing output.
- Cascade Engineering is a traditional automotive plastics part company that employs 1,000 people. In anticipation of Governor Granholm’s New Energy economy, Cascade moved into non-automotive manufacturing sectors including waste disposal and alternative energy.
- The Swift turbine operation employs 15. They assemble units in Michigan for sale worldwide.
- Cascade is using a worldwide network of commercial installers to sell and set up the Swift turbine. Bauer Power is the designated rep for Western Michigan.
- E-Net LLC/ EarthTronics, from the Grand Valley State University energy center in Muskegon, is also moving into home/ business small wind turbine manufacturing.
Swifts at a commerical site. (click to enlarge)
- Governor Granholm: "This is the first celebration of a Michigan-made wind turbine being installed in Michigan…"
- Michael Ford, renewable energy business unit head, Cascade Engineering: "The growth of the Swift is unlimited as we scale it up and become more cost-effective…This is the future of Cascade Engineering and is a key pillar of our business going forward."