One of the startling things you see when you first arrive in Iowa (if you’re from someplace like the Southeastern US where these are few and far between, if they exist at all) is a wind farm.
You expect to see a corn farm, soybean farm, or dairy farm; but who has a wind farm? Actually, all of the above kinds of farmers have wind farms. They install these behemoths right in the midst of those fields and let the wind generate electrical power for their farms and local electric companies.
The first time I saw one was from quite a few miles away (the land is mostly flat here and you can see across that flat expanse very well) while driving down the Interstate. Even from a distance they can be mesmerizing. The next time I saw them I was driving right next to the field they were in. Up close they look positively alien, evoking a feeling of some kind of otherworldly invasion. If they suddenly sprouted mechanical legs and began striding across the corn fields firing laser-death beams, it would seem perfectly in tune with the atmosphere they engender.
That doesn’t seem to come through in the photographs, perhaps because the motion of the blades turning isn’t captured in the pictures. When you’re standing there watching them rotate silently, it is a completely different feeling that just doesn’t come across in pictures. Still, they’re awesome to see in any format.
One of the most amazing things about wind farms came to light during the weather forecast section of a news broadcast one night right after I arrived. The meteorologist showed a radar shot of Iowa and was talking about how clear it was…except for a section that looked like a massive system sitting over part of the state. He very casually said, “Oh and don’t worry about that big spot there, it’s just a false echo created by the wind farms in the area and all the movement of those turbine blades.”
Iowa has 600 wind turbines that generate enough electricity to power 140,000 homes and the turbines around here are 240 feet tall.
This might give you a better idea of the size of these things.
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