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Jacobs Wind Electric Co. Inc. is the oldest renewable energy company in the United States. It has been designing consumer and commercial renewable energy systems sized to the changing distributed electric loads of their periods since the mid-1920s.
The firm was started and established by Marcellus and Joseph Jacobs, after local interest in their wind electric system for their family’s Montana Ranch, built in 1922, brought them requests from neighbors to provide them with wind generated electric power as well.
M.L. & Joe moved the firm to Minneapolis in 1963 to begin production of improved wind/engine distributed energy systems which were sold in the U.S., Canada, and Mexico, as well as on every major continent, through a Dealer network that grew to over 300. Early Jacobs' machines included one taken to Antarctica by Richard Evelyn Byrd and installed (at Byrd's 'Little America') in 1933, running until 1955. Before production ceased in the late 1950s, about 20,000 Jacobs Wind Energy Systems (1 - 3 kW) were shipped from Minneapolis.
In the 80's via a partnership with Control Data a new line of production of Jacobs Wind Energy Systems began in Minneapolis, with marketing of larger 10 - 20 kW systems. Most of these 1,500+ wind systems produced from 1980-85 were grid connected. The majority of them went to pioneering windfarms in Hawaii and California.
In Minnesota, Jacobs units began being connected to Rural Electric Cooperative (REC) grids starting in 1981. Many of these systems are still on line to REC grids’ selling renewable wind power (AG-WATTS).
Today, the firm’s designers (several now in their 4th decade in the wind industry) are working with local RECs on a new generation of consumer renewable energy systems sized to ever larger consumer electric loads at distributed rural sites.
- Robert Righter, Wind Energy in America. Norman, Okla. : University of Oklahoma Press, April 1996. 361pp. ISBN 0-8061-2812-7
- US Patent 4228361 - Wind electric plant with improved alternator field excitation - details 1 of at least 3 patents
- Jacobs Wind Electric Company, Inc
- Wind Turbine Industries
- greentechhistory.com - SERI Archive film, interview
- Wind-Works - Photos, details many Jacobs machines
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