Saturday, July 25, 2009

Kansas Wind Farm

Wind turbines by the dozen at the Flat Ridge Wind Farm

Earlier this month, I visited Dwight and Kathy (my brother and sister-in-law who live southwest of Wichita, Kansas). Dwight took me to see the Flat Ridge Wind Farm that is under construction south of Nashville and Zenda, Kansas. As it happens, Dwight and Kathy live on the east end of the project, and they will eventually have some wind turbines on their ranch, just south of Spivey, Kansas.

These photos were taken south of Nashville, Kansas. I believe there are about 40 wind turbines installed so far. This is Phase 1 of the Flat Ridge project. This part is jointly owned by BP Wind Energy, a subsidiary of BP, and Westar Energy, a Kansas electricity company with the motto, "Doing whatever it takes to keep the lights on."

The project so far is reported to have the capacity to produce 100 megawatts of electricity, enough to power 30,000 Kansas homes.

These photos don't adequately communicate the enormous size of these one-legged beasts. Dwight says that the concrete pads under them are surprisingly small, given the height of the turbines. In the contract with the landowners, it is specified that if a windmill is removed, the pad will be ground down to four feet below the soil line.

Dwight says that he and Kathy specified in their contract that the towers could not be located closer than 1/4 mile to their house. The turbines make a very loud hum when the wind is blowing the blades. I hope it doesn't affect the cattle in the pastures. I also hate to think of the birds these things kill.

I confess that I doubt if wind energy is a long-term solution to the energy problem in the United States. What I've read on PT's blog about his observations of wind turbines hasn't improved my opinion, either. I have decided reluctantly that nuclear power is our best option.

However, most who live around the Flat Ridge Wind Farm are happy about the economic boost that wind energy is promising their communities. Landowners receive a yearly fee as long as the wind turbines are located on their property. There are jobs in maintaining the wind farm, and many related services will employ people too. I hope all the promises hold true for the good folks of the Kansas prairie who live amongst the wind turbines.


Sarabeth said...

The picture that shows the size the most is the one of the truck with the blades on the back. Amazing.

Collagemama said...

I am fascinated by the turbine blades on the trucks. In my recent trips between Texas and Nebraska I've seen many of these trucks. Each time I have the impression of an enormous fossilized whale flipper.

Anonymous said...

Have your nuclear power but put the reactor in your own backyard and don't even think of shipping the waste to mine............A Friend in Nevada

Genevieve said...

One of Prairie Bluestem's email subscribers sent an interesting comment:

"... I have believed for many years that fossil fuels, wind turbines, and sun power will never be enough to power America. Nuclear power is the only way to go. There are no doubt many problems with nuclear power, but they are not insurmountable. I point out that all of our naval submarines and aircraft carriers are nuclear powered. Our last two carriers, the Ronald Regan and the George Bush will support a community of over 5000 sailors and flyers for 20 years before they will need to be refueled. That’s half of the expected life of the carrier. I even believe that small local nuclear stations would be better suited for America. While they would all be connected to the national power grid, the chance of a terrorist destruction to the national grid would be lessened. Well enough of my ramblings. I believe in nuclear power. "

John Ruberry said...

There's a bigger wind farm in Gray County, KS, near the town of Liberal.

You're right. Wind is absolutely not the answer to our problems.

And if it was a good idea, the Kennedy family would favor the Cape Wind Project off of Hyannis Port.

John Ruberry said...

Oh, you're right about nuclear. And intesting, those Nevada folks have no issue the longshot proposal of having Great Lakes water solve their water needs.

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