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Caroline man generating his own electrical power
Turbine electricity helps power house in Caroline; owner starting biz to sell wind power

 Roger Cavendish recently installed a wind turbine in his backyard to power his home.
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Date published: 9/15/2008

By COREY BYERS

Whenever the breeze picks up, Roger Cavendish saves money.

At 8 mph, the wind starts spinning a turbine in his backyard, generating electricity to power his Caroline County home.

Twelve mph or greater is the best speed for production, but once started, the turbine will keep churning out electricity even if the breeze drops to a mere 3 mph.

Cavendish, who owns a masonry company, recently installed a 33-foot-high wind turbine to help power his 4,000-square-foot home in Milford.

Over time, he's confident the one-time $7,400 investment will not only pay off, but also will contribute to a nationwide green movement.

He says there's no maintenance and, unlike paying workers to drill for oil or run a power plant, this technology is a one-time task.

"Once it's in the ground, it's finished," Cavendish said. "Your expenditure is finished."

It took a county permit, two hours to dig a hole, 28 days to let the concrete sit and a few hours to install the turbine. Then he just waited for the wind.

That didn't take long. Cavendish points to the slight lean in the trees along the right side of his brick home near the turbine as proof that his property gets a consistent breeze. October through May are the best months.

Cavendish said he's the only resident in Caroline to have a wind turbine powering his home and a connection to a power grid. Rappahannock Electric Coopera-tive and Dominion Virginia Power both confirmed his claim.

POWER SHARING

Cavendish said he'd been considering wind power for years. But the catalyst to install one came this past winter, when his January and February electric bills both topped $400.

He began looking into turbines, and finally got his up and running Aug. 12.

He's still connected to Rappahannock Electric Cooperative lines, using their power when the wind dies down. And if the turbine produces too much electricity for the house, REC uses it and gives Cavendish credit on his next bill.

In case of a power failure, Cavendish's turbine automatically shuts off so reverse power into Rappahannock Electric's lines does not harm workers or people around a fallen line.

"I generate more electricity than Rappahannock Electric Cooperative," he said. "They buy all theirs."


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COST-EFFICIENCY OF TURBINE Roger Cavendish looked back at his electric bills for each August over the past five years and developed an estimate for what he will save this month with a turbine generating two-thirds of the power for his all-electric home. He plans to track bills for the next year to find out exactly what he's saving annually.

$477

Highest bill (August 2006)

$230

Lowest bill (August 2008)

$162

Estimated bill this month

$7,400

Total cost of turbine