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Minn. Business Owner Goes Green, Gets Paid By Energy Company

MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) -- One business owner is reaping the benefits of going green.

Mark Halla owns The Mustard Seed near Chaska, Minn. It's a garden center that uses a lot of energy. There's a pump that runs the sprinklers, a building to keep cool and the fans in the greenhouse.

"Now it's all being powered by the wind," Halla said.

Halla got his wind turbine about one year ago and was blown away by the savings.

"Even now that we're using all that electricity, we're actually getting paid for it as well," he said.

The turbine is producing so much juice that last April Halla's energy company paid him $753.

"In fact my wife and I, she laughs, but our date night is coming down here to look at the meter spinning backwards," Halla said.

The model of turbine Halla owns came from Renewable Energy SD in Excelsior, Minn. In three years, the up-and-coming company has landed 165 customers in schools, farms and businesses like Hall's.

"Wind energy has its place," said Mike Woodley, an energy analyst with Renewable Energy SD. "We're not replacing fossil fuels entirely, but it helps balance the [electrical] grid; it allows owners like Mark Halla at the Mustard Seed to be competitive by creating a lot of his own electricity."

Halla was fortunate enough to get in early on wind power. He took advantage of federal grants and says it will take five years from when he purchased it to pay it off. Woodley says it would take a new customer about 10 years to pay off a wind turbine.

Halla expects his to last 25 years before it needs any major repairs.

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