Wednesday, July 29, 2009

From Burning Coal to Wind Power: A Weekend in PA Part II

Locust Ridge Wind Farm

After leaving Centralia we headed up the ridge to find the turbines we had seen the day before from the highway on the way in. What I never expected to find was that the project was so large or so accessible!

The Locust Ridge Wind Farm is a project consisting of approximately 51 turbines including 13 which were already put in place two years ago during the first phase of this extensive project. The ground covered by the entire project stretches over 10 miles which is why it is not only visible from the highway but from the back roads as well.

I snapped this shot on the way up the mountain. I am calling it my “money shot” because I feel it fully encapsulates rural Pennsylvania’s efforts to be environmentally responsible through the addition of this wind farm.

Once we arrived at the site there was a small entrance on the right. We are natural explorers so since the no trespassing sign was long worn we figured it was no big deal to check it out. Hey I’m a journalist after all!

Here is a shot that gives the idea of the scale of these babies from the ground. I have pointed out the top of Matt’s head; the full blade doesn’t even make it into the picture.

Iberdrola Renewables is the company behind the wind project which is slated to provide power to over 20,000 homes. Cool! This company is fairly innovative in their approach as they don’t just provide electricity but also natural gas, natural gas storage and energy plans to their rapidly growing customer base. They currently operate in 23 countries world wide and can supply their clean energy to over 800,000 people in the US alone.

Locust Ridge was the first wind farm Iberdrola initiated in the United States.

This project at Locust Ridge was only completed within the last year but the turbines are spinning and energy is being stored to provide a new and renewable, natural resource of power to the people of Schuylkill County in Pennsylvania. And they are certainly impressive to look at.

One of the communities who could take advantage of the 70,000 megawatt hours of power produced by this farm is Pottsville, the very town we stayed in this past weekend. After driving around the general geographic area for a couple days it is clear there are a vast number of valleys with homes and the rising ridges above them which could certainly benefit from such a resource.

With such a small footprint (only 150 square miles out of 5700 is actually utilized for the placement of the turbines) power could conceivably be supplied to all homes in the great state of Pennsylvania! And this is only one farm in one state; similar projects and those even larger are all over the country now.

As we were leaving the base of the turbine Matt said something so right on I had to write it down and quote him here:

“Pennsylvania is clearly making up for its dirty industrial past in places like Centralia with a Green future with this wind farm.”

Yes, they certainly are.

Why not check to see if your power company can get its supply from wind power and switch today? To see if Iberdrola supplies your company’s power check out this page. If they do not serve your area call your power company and ask! The more of us who request these natural resources the more likely they will be provided, lowering costs and helping the Earth one spinning blade at a time.

Resources for statistics:
National Wind Watch


Judi FitzPatrick said...

A much happier and uplifting tale here than in the previous post. Great news that PA is doing this! Hopefully a nudge to other states to consider something similar.
Peace, Judi

Matt S said...

I found it amazing that you could see this wind farm spinning away while standing in the devastation of Centralia....hopefully this will lead to a reborn economy for this area.

Jenn said...

It was definitely encouraging to see this taking shape on this coast. The huge states (TX, CA, etc) already house enormous wind farms but the northeast gets a healthy volume of wind as well and it would be very beneficial to the growth &/or rebirth of many struggling communities like this one to not only provide energy from renewable resources (read: no longer pillaging the land and less scary profession) but also open up a considerable number of Green collar jobs to the people who live there!