Mike's Weather U On The Road: The Power of Wind

Now many people, with the help of government incentives, are looking to cut those costs with alternative energy.

Why is wind becoming a popular source of power??

When you first come up on these windmills on I-65 they are almost a little menacing, like those big creatures on Star Wars that are coming across the landscape

“There are 66 towers in this phase, it's phase two of four,” Mike Schernecker from Horizon Wind Energy said.

Mike Schernecker is the quality control inspector for these 400 foot tall structures. There are over 700 wind turbines standing today in the two counties of White, Benton, and Jasper. Over 1,000 are expected to go online by the end of this year

“It's a 40 meter blade brought in on semi, if you look right here these are like a fiberglass cover nothing can get in there. You have hydraulic pumps and everything in there, “ Schernecker said.

And it's incredible how little concrete is used to hold up these massive structures.

“Roughly about 8 foot in the ground that's all it is. The ground itself and the weight of the tower hold it up. The tower is actually built to move,” Schernecker said.

And move is what some folks in this area wish the wind turbines would do.

“I just want the peace and privacy of country living. My Grandpa bought
the farm in ‘24,” Farmer Keith Morgan said.

Keith Morgan does not like the new view or the noise.

“It doesn't matter if you stick your head out of the house, stand here or stick the chickens out at dark. Six nights out of seven we hear the turbines,” Morgan said.

“We are at the mercy of the wind now. If the wind blows all we hear is woosh, woosh out here on our property,” Morgan added

So it's not a steady hum, you actually hear the woosh?” Hoffman asked.

“Correct,” Morgan replied.

It's not very windy today at all but it only takes 8 m.p.h. to turn these big blades. For safety purposes they shut them off at 55.

This is an area with an average wind speed of seventeen miles per hour at the height of the blades, the reason for planting these three to four million dollar structures in this area.

“The wind will blow by the blades. To catch the wind it will pitch and turn. Hydraulic pitch pump will turn it and a computer will tell it to do that,” Schernecker said.

Another reason for this large cluster of towers is because of the power line grid. The power is sent along these lines to be used by you, in your home.

“I suppose the people that's got ‘em are all for ‘em for the income that they get every year,” Morgan said.

The small plot of land the new age wind mills sit on bring the land owner $8,000 per year per turbine for 30 to 50 years. No wonder so many of them sign up.

“Farming is a gamble. You don't know if you are going to raise a 100 bushels of corn or 200 bushels at $3.00. You know what you are going to get off of that every year. It's guaranteed income,” Morgan said.

And a guarantee, the government hopes, will help lower energy costs and clear the air for Indiana residents.

“I am for growing these alternative energy sources as fast as we can. We are spending a lot of tax dollars to do it, wind power in particular is subsidized incredibly or no one would be building any windmills. That's okay, we want to jump start these new technologies,” Governor Mitch Daniels said.

“It's a great idea but we have to do it in a smart way,” Governor Daniels added.

It was an incredible sight to see those wind turbines. We were in the middle of them and we could see them in every direction.

Wednesday Just Before 6, we'll take a look at research for wind energy going on right here in Michiana and have more on the pros and cons of the power of wind.

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