It is likely that personal wind farms, rooftop solar panels, and the like will not save the planet, but we have a hunch that they might be one of the many little things that we can do to achieve one big thing---reduce the environmental effects of generating electricity. The Nickels administration seems to understand this, so its proposals (PDF) for revising the multifamily-housing zoning code would allow for small wind turbines and solar panels lower than 10 feet in height to be installed on the top of multifamily housing without violating the zoning code. We like this innovation. Make renewable energy lawful, as opposed to illegal.
But in the Business section of this morning's New York Times we see an article questioning the economic efficiency and the environmental benefits of the kind of small wind turbines that would be installed on multifamily housing buildings in Seattle.