Feed Laws


Since the mid-1970s I’ve followed the development of wind energy around the globe. During this time I’ve been a proponent, participant, observer, and critic of the wind industry. As an observer, I’ve traveled extensively reporting on the technology and how it’s being used. As a participant, I’ve installed anemometers in Pennsylvania, hunted windchargers in Montana, and measured the performance of small wind turbines in Cali­fornia. As a proponent, I’ve lectured about the promise of wind energy to groups from Vancouver to New Delhi, from Punta Arenas, Chile, to Husum, Germany. And as a critic, I’ve called some wind companies to task when their environmental practices were no better than the technol­ogies they intended to supplant.

In the early 1980s, I prepared a daylong seminar on the prospects and pitfalls of wind energy. An early version of this book, published in 1983 under the title Wind Energy: How to Use It, grew out of the course notes for these seminars.

At that time there was a chasm between the books written for back­yard tinkerers who wanted to build their own wind turbines and those books surveying the entire field of wind energy. There was no book that answered the questions people raised in my seminars about how they could obtain a working wind system and not an experimenter’s toy. Wind Energy was written to meet that need. The book was unique because it didn’t simply look at the technology. It gathered tips and advice from leaders in the field and offered practical guidance on how to select, buy, and install wind turbines—and how to do so safely.

Wind Energy was reissued in 1993 by Chelsea Green Publishing as Wind Power for Home & Business. The book became a staple of both homeown­ers and professionals interested in the subject. In 2004, Chelsea Green again published an extensive revision titled Wind Power: Renewable Ener­gy for Home, Farm, and Business.

Today wind energy is a booming worldwide industry, and with the heightened concern about climate change and energy security, this resur­gence of interest is here to stay.

Despite wind energy’s success—and the plethora of books on the topic—there remains a need for a frank discourse on how to wisely use the technology. For this reason, I have continued to edit and update the book. After a decade on the market, it was time for another extensive revision.

Each new edition has reflected changes in both my view of how best to use wind energy and in the technology available. This version incorpo­rates the lessons I’ve learned from more than three decades working with wind energy. It also introduces the concept of “community wind” where groups of people invest in large wind turbines that produce commercial quantities of electricity for sale to the utility company. While a seemingly novel concept in North America, it is quite common in Denmark and Germany. In community wind, farmers, small businesses, and groups of community-minded citizens band together to develop—for profit —“their” wind resources. As Germany’s electricity rebels say, “Renew­able energy is far too important to be left to the electric utilities alone. We have a responsibility for our own future. We can and will develop our own wind resources for our own benefit and for the benefit of our communities.” By proving that it can be done, Germans and Danes have served as models for us in North America as well as for others around the world.

Soon, I hope, we’ll see communities across the continent clamoring for the right to connect their wind turbines to the grid—and their solar panels and biogas plants as well—and be paid a fair price for their electricity.

This book is not by any means exhaustive, nor is it intended to be. In the more than three decades I’ve worked with wind energy, the field has grown so vast that it’s no longer possible to confine the technology within the covers of one book.

In 1983, I sought to help newcomers to wind energy avoid the mistakes that I and others had made and to spur development of this renewable resource. Wind Energy for the Rest of Us seeks the same end.

Bon vent! (Good wind!)

Paul Gipe

Bakersfield, California

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