If you’ve ever driven across Kansas on Interstate 70, which billboards proclaim to be “America’s Main Street,” you know it’s pretty much 400 miles of wind, farmland and prairie landscape. But this summer, on my way to find refuge from the St. Louis heat and humidity in the Rocky Mountains, I noticed something cool spread across the landscape about 20 miles west of Salina: the Smoky Hills Wind Farm.
According to the operator, Enel North America (a division of Italy’s largest power company), the wind farm “has a total capacity of 250 MW from its 155 large wind turbines…all 80 meters tall and with rotor blades with a diameter of approximately 80 meters.”
Enel’s website claims that “Smoky Hills can generate enough energy to meet the consumption needs of 85,000 U.S. households, while avoiding some 750,000 metric tons of carbon dioxide emissions and the consumption of more than 175,000 metric tons of oil equivalent each year.”
Watching these giant blades spin along I-70 for 5-10 miles was an amazing spectacle and, I would think, great public exposure for wind power. I know it gave me the opportunity (as our car was spewing CO2 into the atmosphere) to explain the need for alternative energy sources to my kids.
Interesting that this wind farm, located in the middle of the U.S. heartland, is owned by an Italian company.
I didn’t get to snap my own photos, as I was driving at the time (thank you, Mr. Kansas State Trooper with the Big Hat, for the speeding ticket), but I found the photo above from Wikipedia user Drenaline.