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September 3, 2014

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Wind power takes root at local couple’s home

Owners of McLane Electric say turbine will be good for environment, their power bills — and their business

Image

Richard Brian

Nancy Tabor, right, and Allen McLane, co-owners of McLane Electric, local dealers for Skystream wind turbines. One of these state-of-the-art generators will go up in their backyard in April. It costs about $20,000 to install and permit the wind turbine, but the.couple estimates they’ll save 60 percent of the cost from a federal tax.credit and local utility rebates.

Wind Turbines

A Skystream wind turbine. Launch slideshow »

For those who live on a half-acre or more, have plenty of open space and maybe a little bit of elevation, wind energy might be a cost-saving option.

Nancy Tabor and Allen McLane plan to install one of the first wind turbines in Las Vegas at their home in the northwest. With an up-front investment of about $20,000, they'll be providing power to their four-bedroom ranch house in unincorporated Clark County, near Lone Mountain. Local utility and federal rebates will cover about 60 percent of the cost.

"It's not really about the cost savings," said Tabor, who is a businesswoman and an environmentalist. "The offset on the power bill is not as significant as the environmental impact. It just makes sense to use a natural resource to take care of our electrical needs. But don't get me wrong, I like seeing the power bill go down."

Tabor and McLane will get a 30 percent federal income tax credit on the project, which comes to about $6,500. After they get final approval from the county this week and erect the 42-foot turbine, they'll receive a rebate check from utility carrier NV Energy for about $6,000.

Their wind turbine is one of several being built in Las Vegas, said John Hargrove, program manager for NV Energy. The utility company has about $7.25 million available in incentives for customers who install wind generators.

"A survey from NV Energy shows that customers ranked rebates and the new tax incentives as the No. 1 and No. 2 reasons for installing (renewable energy generators)," he said.

So far, the new pilot program has processed four projects — one in Winnemucca, two in Reno and one in Dayton — with about $40,000 given out in rebates.

The utility company plans to increase the total rebate amount available next year to $10 million, Hargrove said. The funds come from NV Energy customers.

Starting in late 2008, the Renewable Energy Program Rate appeared on customers' bills.

Rural customers aren't the only ones who'll benefit from a wind turbine, Hargrove said. Reno has one wind turbine on a quarter-acre in the middle of town.

Tabor and McLane, who own McLane Electric, are one of the local dealers for Skystream wind turbines. One of these state-of-the-art generators will go up in their backyard in April.

"It's cool to be hippie," Tabor said.

Since wind power for homes is so new and NV Energy just started its rebate program, the couple saw their turbine as a test run for their company.

After having one themselves and seeing how much it will cost and how much energy it will produce, they'll be better able to inform customers. And they'll understand local zoning laws pertaining to wind turbines.

Tabor, the business manager who will handle all the permitting and rebate applications for customers, said people will buy even during a recession. Customers want to produce less pollution and they want to cut their costs, she said.

And even though some might consider a wind turbine unsightly in a rural neighborhood, Tabor got about 30 letters of support from her neighbors for the project. They needed a permit to erect the steel pole because it was above height restrictions for the area.

"It was very well received," said Kim Bush, liaison to Commissioner Larry Brown and staff support to the Lone Mountain Citizens Advisory Council.

"People thought it was a great idea." Lone Mountain, a rural neighborhood preservation area, has about 5,000 residents.

Tabor and McLane's goal is to cut their carbon power emission completely and get off the electrical grid. About 70 percent of NV Energy's power for Southern Nevada comes from natural gas with purchased power. About 18 percent is from coal, with 9 percent from renewable sources, according to 2008 statistics.

Tabor and McLane's house uses about 5,000 kilowatt hours a month. Depending on wind conditions, the turbine is expected to produce on average 1,000 kilowatt hours a month, McLane said. The rest they'll produce with solar panels.

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