State and utility policy makers, county officials, and other interested stakeholders can now explore the best ways to improve the bottom line of consumer-owned wind turbines with a new Distributed Wind Policy Comparison Tool and accompanying Guidebook, available at The Guidebook is also available through the U.S. Department of Energy Wind and Water Power Program online library at

As part of a project funded by U.S. Department of Energy (DOE), the Policy Tool uses a dashboard-interfaced pro forma financial model to calculate the impacts that rebates, tax credits, feed-in tariffs (FITs) and other incentives and policies have on project economics. The project helps address market challenges for distributed wind identified in the U.S. DOE “20% Wind Energy by 2030” report, available at, as part of a diverse clean energy portfolio.

Users will learn what policy improvements – including overcoming zoning and interconnection hurdles, as well as rebates and tax incentives driving sales – are most needed for wind turbines up to 100 kW, and in which states. The Policy Tool allows sensitivity analyses to be conducted on various policy options and assumptions to determine impacts and optimal combinations to help guide efficient use of public and ratepayer funds.

The Guidebook highlights attractive markets and policy targets that offer the quickest returns on investment, by providing case studies, encouraging policy makers to build on lessons learned with best practices to sustain and improve support for on-site wind generation. Case studies are included to compare and contrast the existing policy landscape. One case study evaluates all states based on their current incentives and market environments for distributed wind.

Led by eFormative Options, experts from the National Renewable Energy Laboratory, the Pacific Northwest National Laboratory, and the North Carolina Solar Center all played key roles in the project. “With increasing use of electric vehicles, wind turbines sited near the point of end use, such as at parking lots and truck stops, can quickly ramp-up to meet local demand,” said eFormative’s Principal Heather Rhoads-Weaver. “Our project helps ensure public dollars supporting this valuable technology are spent wisely.”

While rebates and incentives have been important drivers for the adoption of distributed wind technology, other policies have hindered market growth. With the wide variety of policies and regulations across various jurisdictional levels, utilities and policy makers wanting to support small wind projects have needed the clear roadmap that the Policy Tool and Guidebook provide.

According to the American Wind Energy Association, the market for small wind systems grew 26% in 2010. “Small wind turbines are poised to become an important piece of our country’s energy puzzle,” said Rhoads-Weaver. “Strategic policy support can enable this emerging technology to more effectively contribute to the national economy.”


Heather Rhoads-Weaver, 206-755-2064,
Shannon Helm, N.C. Solar Center, 919-423-8340,
Franny White, PNNL, 509-375-6904,


eFormative Options offers expertise in forming and advancing sustainable endeavors, evaluating economic development impacts, and siting, zoning and policy recommendations. Launched in 2005, eFormative consults on project and organizational development, grant writing, creating funding and resource plans, market analysis, public affairs, communications, consensus-building and strengthening relationships with stakeholders.


National Renewable Energy Laboratory develops renewable energy and energy efficiency technologies and practices, advances related science and engineering, and transfers knowledge and innovations to address the nation's energy and environmental goals. NREL has forged a focused strategic direction to increase its impact on the U.S. Department of Energy’s and our nation's energy goals by accelerating the research path from scientific innovations to market-viable energy solutions. NREL began operating in 1977 as the Solar Energy Research Institute, and is managed for DOE by the Alliance for Sustainable Energy, LLC.


Pacific Northwest National Laboratory is a Department of Energy Office of Science national laboratory where interdisciplinary teams advance science and technology and deliver solutions to America's most intractable problems in energy, the environment and national security. PNNL employs 4,800 staff, has an annual budget of nearly $1.1 billion, and has been managed by Ohio-based Battelle since the lab's inception in 1965. Follow PNNL on Facebook, LinkedIn and Twitter.


Created in 1988, the North Carolina Solar Center, as part of the College of Engineering at North Carolina State University (NCSU), works closely with state and local government and the renewable energy industry. It manages and maintains the NCSU Solar House and serves as a resource for innovative, green energy technologies through research and demonstration, technical assistance, education, outreach and training. It also administers the Database of State Incentives for Renewables & Efficiency (DSIRE), a resource providing financial incentives and policies.


In order to promote national security, economic vitality, and environmental quality, the Office of Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy works to enable rapid expansion of clean, affordable, reliable, domestic wind power through its Wind and Water Power Program. This program works with national laboratories, industry, universities, and other federal agencies to conduct research and development activities through competitively selected, cost-shared projects. and