On a beautiful day at the end of August, we took a drive to see the Meadow Lake Wind Farm, north of Lafayette, Indiana. What greeted us was a trip into an almost surreal landscape: Typical Indiana farmland, with corn and soybean fields dotted with barns and grain storage bins, amongst which sprouted row after row of huge three blade wind turbines. Standing 262 feet tall, with a three blade “propeller” spanning 269 feet, these white behemoths rotate at 14 revolutions per minute.
The Meadow Lake farm of Horizon Wind Energy, An EDP Renewables Company, became operational in October, 2009, with 121 wind turbines going online producing 200 MW of power. According to the company website this is enough “clean power” for 60,000 average Indiana homes annually. Horizon was able to build a substation next to an existing power substation, which greatly reduced their costs as million dollars a mile transmission lines were not required to connect to the power grid. Phase II and III are now nearing completion, with a Phase IV on the drawing board.
This green energy project in north central Indiana is at once a visual marvel when you first catch sight of the wind turbines. Driving north from Lafayette, and off in the distance, we noticed what appeared to be large white boards. These of course were the blades of a couple of the turbines. Soon we were able to see a complete unit, with its tall support column and the three blades rotating ever so slowly. Each blade could easily be tracked by sight as it rotated.
As we drove further into the “farm” of turbines, the scope of this project became more impressive. Mile after mile of straight county roads were traversed, with more and more turbines coming into view. Soon turbines were visible in all directions, seemingly an endless number. The constant movement of the blades provided a near hypnotic effect. Massive, slow moving objects both ahead and on both sides of your peripheral vision added to the surreal appearance of the area. Grain storage bins and their associated elevator systems are normally the largest and tallest objects in a rural landscape. These features are completely dwarfed by the size and number of wind turbines.
The Horizon Meadow Lake Wind Turbine Farm is a most impressive sight to behold. The environmentalists applaud the benefits of wind power. One source reports that the clean output of these wind turbines is equivalent to removing 104,000 cars off the road each year, when emissions are calculated. Regardless of one’s opinion of the environmental impact of wind farms, this ongoing project has already brought an economic boost to the area.