22 February 2012

Vacation Season, Part II: The Road to Angel Fire

Our ski vacation to Angel Fire, New Mexico, took us through northwestern Texas, and around Lubbock we were surprised to find this:

All around us.

TONS of them.

We probably saw a thousand of them within about half an hour.  And they're HUGE.

Yeah, those are cars on the road.  And a train.  And the windmills tower over them.  We estimated that the base of each windmill is probably 8-10 feet across.

Truthfully, I don't know much about wind power.  One of the builders we talked with tried to talk us into a (much smaller) wind turbine in our backyard, but it didn't seem to be cost-effective, so we didn't really explore it.  I don't know how much wind it takes to operate them (I don't think Austin gets enough...but I could be wrong).  I don't know if you can buy, for instance, 6 kilowatts of windmills (like we contracted for six kw of solar panels).  I don't even know how a turning windmill actually generates electricity (although I am reminded of making electromagnets in junior high science class), or how these thousands of windmills are tied into the local (or regional, or statewide?) grid.  Pretty much the only thing I know is that they are transforming the landscape not only of northwest Texas (where wind is pretty much a constant) but also of power generation in Texas.

 On our way back from Angel Fire, we discovered that there is a windmill museum, the American Wind Power Center and Museum, in Lubbock.  We had wanted to stop in and check it out, but our desire to just get home won out.  Next time.

Interested in learning more about wind power?  Or about how the ocean can help to generate electricity?  Click here for the scoop on a wind farm project slated for the coast off of Cape Cod.


  1. I saw those windmills when I drove from Austin to Oklahoma and couldn't believe how big they are. They look so much smaller in pictures and movies.

    1. Agreed -- seeing them in person is totally different!

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