A 64-year-old Farm Owned by Three Brothers has Recently Added a New Crop: Wind

 

Kevin, Ed and Rich Doody grew up on the dairy farm their parents established in 1949 with 35 cows and fewer than 80 acres. The farm, now home to 350 cows, is 12 miles south of Syracuse, NY, in a small town called Otisco. The brothers’ parents also grew up in the area, going to local churches and schools. Their father, Larry, passed away six years ago, and their mother, Avis, continues to take care of the farm’s accounting. “It’s been in our blood our whole life,” said Ed.

Continuing the tradition, the brothers raised their ten children on the farm. “The kids have all enjoyed the country lifestyle we have out here,” said Ed, who has three children. “It’s not just a job. It’s a lifestyle. It’s a full-time commitment. The cows are here and they have to be taken care of. Someone has to always be there on Sundays. Sometimes a cow has a calf at night. I’m usually on call in the middle of the night when something comes up.”

With the commitment to the lifestyle, the rising costs of maintaining a farm, and the increasing news coverage over the past three years on the limited resources of carbon and oil, the brothers began to consider other options. They have three employees and earn all of their income from the milk that they sell, as well as maintaining 900 acres of corn, alfalfa, barley and hay to feed the cows.

Their research began in the west, learning about the use of turbines in Wisconsin, where farmers used and spoke highly of the Endurance 3120 Turbine that Ed was interested in. Encouraged, Ed attended seminars and found CEC Energy, which installs wind turbines and is a division of Cazenovia Equipment Company. The farm has been a long-time client of Cazenovia, which is a large John Deere subsidiary in New York State. CEC Energy helped the farm with permits, qualifications for federal grants, and calculating the amount of wind the farm would receive.

Living on a hilltop in a windy area has proven ideal to harness a sustainable energy source. The 174-foot-tall Endurance 3120 Turbine, which the farm owns, was installed on September 25, 2012, eighteen months after initial inquiry. It has powered about 240,000 kilowatts since then. Rated at 50 kilowatts, the turbine will run at 60 or 70 kilowatts with a strong wind. It is computer-controlled, can take care of itself and possesses a lot of sensors that safeguard against system faults. “We’re happy with the performance over all. I expect we’ll go year after year with the machine,” said Ed. “None of neighbors are close by enough to be bothered by it, and no one has mentioned it’s unsightly. We don’t get a lot of compliments about it.”

Following the success of the farm’s turbine, all three families decided to lease their own, smaller, 10-kilowatt Bergey turbine to power their homes, bringing their turbine total up to four. Bergey Wind Power is a company in Oklahoma, which has been making turbines for the past 30 years. CEC Energy installed the turbines, which are leased through United Wind, a company founded in 2013 that offers affordable leasing to small wind consumers. Some of the farm’s neighbors have turbine-powered homes, and they are all happy with their experience, said Ed. Ed opted to fully prepay his 20-year turbine lease for $20,000 and expects payback in about five years on his investment. The lease guarantees 16,000 kilowatts per year. The turbines for their home were installed this summer and started generating electricity a few weeks ago. With adding an additional source of electricity, Ed and his wife, Kathy, are especially looking forward to eliminating the extensive chore of chopping firewood for heat. “The large turbine is directly across from our home. There’s no noise or interference and it’s not annoying to listen to,” said Ed. “My wife says it’s like change in your pocket. When it’s running, you make a little money.”

In addition to investing their money, they’re making choices for their future. “We pay a large fuel bill to run our tractors. That’s only going to get higher after time. So are electric bills. It makes good economic sense to us to put up the turbines,” said Ed. “It’s the wave of the future. We can’t be committed to carbon and oil forever.”

Originally published on DWEA’s website during October 2014.

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