Augusta, Wis. (WEAU) -- If you're heading along highway 12 near Augusta you may notice something new along the horizon. It's the first wind turbine in Eau Claire County. Matt Gabler has owned his farm for more than 30 years. He's always had an interest in renewable energy, but after a trip in 2010 to Germany. It inspired him to look into installing a wind turbine on his farm.
"Out in the country like this. This is the best place for it," says Gabler. He got a $20,000 grant from the USDA as part of its Rural Energy for America program.
This is Eau Claire County’s tallest wind turbine. It is 140 ft. in height, and when it comes to putting up the county's tallest turbine it's all about location.
"This area is actually an excellent area. What you want to be is 30 to 40 feet above your highest object within a 500 foot radius, and that's where you get your best wind...your best production," explains Mike Tomashevsky. He owns Mike’s Windpower Systems, which installed the turbine on the Gabler farm.
The wind turbine should produce 20% beyond what the farm uses. “You have a dual meter that's installed so when you generate electricity that you're not using it goes back on the grid, and they actually pay you the same rate they charge you. It’s definitely a long term investment. It's not something that's going to pay back rapidly. However, we're looking expecting maybe a 7 to 10 year payback," says Gabler.
"The farmers have the best advantage with the USDA grant. They have the 30% tax credit that still is available yet. They can also take the rapid depreciation," says Tomashevsky.
The USDA grant is taking applications and will likely have plenty of funding once the farm bill is worked out in congress. "The hope is that everything will be passed here soon and we'll be able to fund as we have in the past," says Kevin Tuttle with the USDA.
"It’s not meant to take the place of all other forms of energy. It's just part of the tool kit," says Tuttle.
For more information on the grant program check out the link below.
USDA Rural Energy for America Program