Our trip last weekend took us along US 52 through Benton County, Indiana. This route passes through the Fowler Ridge Wind Farm which currently consists of 222 power-generating windmills, jointly owned by BP Alternative Energy and Dominion. It is an awesome sight driving along for miles and seeing these towers marching along from the eyeball to the horizon.
This facility is the first of two phases on this "farm" and is rated at 400Mw. It is much easier for me to understand when I am told that this set of windmills can produce enough electricity to power 120,000 average homes. The second phase is currently under construction and is scheduled to go on-line in early 2010, bringing the total rating to 750Mw and making it one of the largest wind farms in the world.
This is not the only such producer in Benton County, as there is an older though somewhat smaller collection of mills at Goodland. Nor is this the only wind-powered generation facility we passed through on our trip. Along Illinois route 47 is a similar sight with both completed towers and towers under construction.
When I was a kid we used to visit friends who lived on a farm. They had a "wind charger." It's mounting frame was on the gable of the barn. The fan had two blades and made a distinctive "whap-whap-whap" sound as it turned in the breeze. It provided enough power for a twenty-five watt light bulb in the kitchen, and a refrigerator! The light flickered as the whap-whap could be heard outside the window. The point of relating this is this. The technology existed to generate and utilize wind power in the 1930s. So why did we drag our feet so long? Really, I know the answer to this, but there isn't anyone who would hang around long enough to read it if I were to post it!
It was announced in July this year that we are to get a wind farm right here in Tipton County. Pending approval, construction is to begin early in 2010.
(Fowler Ridge photo from Wikipedia. I could have stopped and taken a picture, but I didn't. When we travel, BBBH avers that for me the destination is the trip, whereas she believes the trip should be the destination. If that makes no sense, try: she believes half the fun is getting there, I believe I'll have fun when I get there. I doubt if BP will object to the use of the logo. After all, this whole article is almost an advertisement for them, and I didn't get a dime for it.)
Guess who does the driving.