Hundreds of red lights were blinking in unison, for miles and miles, across the dark landscape. It was oddly mesmerizing, in a lot of ways. It was strangely fascinating. It was unexpected, and definitely a little creepy. What was next? Crop circles?
It was late at night.
I was in the middle of rural Indiana.
I had no cell phone service.
I’d driven this route at least 100 times, in the last 20 years. Driving North, on autopilot, I was pretty invested in the audiobook that had been keeping me company for the last 4 hours. (I’d swung by the public library on my way out of town, to grab Longevity, the follow-up to Cameron Diaz’s The Body Book. That’s actually a lot to ponder on a late night drive.)
I was headed home to Chicago from Columbus, OH, straight through Indianapolis. When you’re that familiar with a route you begin to notice the landmarks. There’s the candle shop with “The Best Bathrooms on I-70”, the eye-catching Southland Log Homes model home, and the dairy adventure at Fair Oaks Farms.
What captured my attention this trip was the expansive field of windmills. I couldn’t actually see them, since it was getting close to midnight, but I knew they were there. They’d still be there on my return trip, so I committed to learning a little bit more about them this time around. They had fascinated me for years, but I hadn’t taken the time to find out what drives the industry, or why there were just so many.
When I saw them in the daylight it seemed as if the massive field of slowly rotating blades, surrounded by native crops, had no end. You’d squint into the distance, imagining you’d make out how far the furthest turbine was, but they fade into the distance before you have the chance to decide.
I was in the middle of Meadow Lake Wind Farm, with tall turbines on either side of the highway. Most were turning slowly, high in the air. Occasionally I’d see one stuck in place.
“Meadow Lake Wind Farm consists of four phases and is located in northwestern Indiana in White County. The site offers many advantages as a location for modern wind power electrical generation, including a strong, proven wind resource, excellent access to a transmission line, compatibility with existing land uses, and proximity to power markets. The wind farm co-exists well with the agricultural land use in the area, allowing farmers to continue growing crops while generating revenue from the wind turbines.” (Meadow Lake Wind Farm website)
Wow! Just. . . wow! Alternative power is powerful, but also visually striking.
“Electricity buyers – whether they are utilities, municipalities, universities or Fortune 500 companies – are increasingly seeking to make wind energy a major part of their energy portfolios. Wind power comprised more than 41% of all new U.S. electric capacity additions in 2015, representing $14.7 billion in new investment.” (Wind Energy Foundation website)
In 2009 phase one of this unique farm became operational. That means I watched these structures being built, and for almost 10 years I’ve driven past these amazing, powerful structures.
From the road they tower over the cars, barn and highway signs. “The widespread GE 1.5-megawatt model, for example, consists of 116-ft blades atop a 212-ft tower for a total height of 328 feet. The blades sweep an area just under an acre.” (Wind Power Facts website) An acre!!
I’m not sure what Don Quixote would make of any of this. . .
. . . but right about now I’m recalling a childhood favorite, which I am now craving. Would anyone like a Lil’ Dutch Maid Almond Windmill Cookie? (See link below)
Join me on my next adventure,
Wind Energy Foundation: http://windenergyfoundation.org/
Meadow Lake Wind Farm: http://meadowlakewindfarm.com/
Tilting at Windmills: A closer look at Indiana’s expanding wind power industry: http://ijec.org/2013/07/24/tilting-at-windmills-a-closer-look-at-indianas-expanding-wind-power-industry/
Lil’ Dutch Maid Almond Windmill Cookies, 10 oz.: https://dailycol.myshopify.com/products/lil-dutch-maid-almond-windmill-cookies-10-oz?utm_medium=cpc&utm_source=googlepla&variant=28237069699
Wind Power Facts: http://www.aweo.org/faq.html
The Body Book: The Law of Hunger, the Science of Strength, and Other Ways to Love Your Amazing Body: https://www.amazon.com/Body-Book-Science-Strength-Amazing/dp/0062252755
The Longevity Book: The Science of Aging, the Biology of Strength, and the Privilege of Time: https://www.amazon.com/Longevity-Book-Science-Strength-Privilege/dp/0062375180/ref=pd_sbs_14_t_2?_encoding=UTF8&psc=1&refRID=7Q1GT37EMMZ37BCAWF5B