More like wind-iana: Hoosiers harness the breeze
Indiana addresses both the positive and negative aspects of wind power in order to embrace a clean energy future.
Thursday, October 13, 2011 - 13:52
THE WINDY CITY'S HERE: Makes sense for wind power to be big in Indiana. (Photo: JOE MARINARO/Flickr)
Wind power is one of the lowest-cost, renewable electricity alternatives currently available. It provides Hoosiers with a clean, domestic electricity resource and Indiana has experienced a tremendous amount of growth as wind turbines continue to crop up on farms and even in a few metropolitan areas.
In Indianapolis, The Time Factory, a calendar publisher on the northwest side, has its own wind turbine. At Keep Indianapolis Beautiful, turbines can be seen as well as Upland Brewery in Bloomington, and Hoover Farms near Tipton, who uses five small wind turbines.
Drive down I-465 and you'll spot Contractor Johnson Melloh Solutions' test site for both wind and solar energy at its southwest Indianapolis location.
Utility-scale wind farms in rural northwest Indiana are creating bumper crops of energy. According to the Indiana Office of Energy Development (OED), Indiana's total wind power in November 2010 was nearly 1,400 megawatts, enough power to light more than a half million homes.
But there are drawbacks to wind power. You can harness the wind, but you can't store it. According to Indiana's Office of Energy Development's spokesman, Erich Burch, wind turbines generate power only 37 percent of the time. 63 percent of the time the wind doesn't blow. And since there's not yet a way to store the Hoosier wind power, the electricity gets used immediately. "Once it hits the grid, an electron is an electron ... Wind goes into the mix, and then that energy goes where it's needed," Burch says.
Students at Purdue University are studying the precise impact of wind farming on agricultural land. A 60-turbine energy park currently stands 10 miles north of Purdue University in West Lafayette. The University also hopes to educate students from kindergarten to 12th grade, where they will be able to visit a welcome center and stand next to a turbine. Spokesman Ken Sandel says that they hope to have a developer arrange for utility companies to buy the wind power and be fully operational by December 2012.
In July, Windiana 2011 took place at the Indianapolis Convention Center, and focused on wind, solar, biomass, geothermal and other renewable energy sources. The conference offered tours of wind and solar farms and an appearance by Ed Begley, Jr.
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