By Baylee Pulliam
ELWOOD, Ind. (AP) – Willis Ladd counts them through the little window above his kitchen sink. One, two, three, four … 31 wind turbines.
Willis and his wife Noramae have lived in their home on Indiana Highway 13 near Elwood for over 40 years.
And in that time, the view from their kitchen has stayed almost the same – flat farmland, running from the edge of their roughly 2-acre yard until it hits the horizon.
That changed this year, when construction started on the first phase of the Wildcat wind farm, a 125- turbine, 200-megawatt project spread across 8,500 acres in Madison and Tipton counties.
The turbines will produce enough energy to power 60,000 average American homes for a year, Andy Melka, Wildcat project developer, told The Herald Bulletin. One hundred megawatts per year will be sold to Indiana Michigan Power for distribution.
E.ON Climate and Renewables has invested $400 million in building phase one of Wildcat – $3 million per turbine, plus the costs of construction.
After the initial costs of building the turbines and other expenses like paying 130 lease contracts – between $20 million to $25 million over the 30-year expected lifespan of the turbines – to landowners, the costs of producing electricity from wind is relatively low, Melka said.
“Wind is one of the cheapest, if not the cheapest, new source of electrical generation in this country,” he said.
Environmentally, wind is also a comparatively clean alternative to generating electricity with fossil fuels, said Scott Rice-Snow, a geological sciences professor at Ball State University.
One of the big by-products of fossil fuel-based production is carbon dioxide, which, along with other socalled “greenhouse gases” like methane and nitrous oxide, can affect changes in the global climate by trapping heat from the sun.
It’s an over-simplification, but think of a car on a sunny day, Rice-Snow suggested. “The window lets heat in but makes it harder for that heat to get out.” And the amount of greenhouse gases in the atmosphere is going up. Fast.
According to the U.S. Energy Information Association, the levels for many important greenhouse gases have gone up about 25 percent in the past 150 years. Over the past 20 years, the majority of man-made carbon dioxide emissions – about three-quarters – came from burning fossil fuels.1 2 3 next >>