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Name: Cathy C.
Status: Educator
Age: 50s
Location: N/A
Country: N/A
Date: June 2004


Question:
I was just on a vacation; I noticed a field of windmills on I-39 near Rockford Illinois. They are very modern. What are they and their purpose?



Replies:
Cathy -

Northern Illinois is farm territory and the farmers just planted windmill seeds and that is what sprouted. It does take a lot of high-iron fertilizer and serious tilling to keep the weeds down and let the superstructures grow straight and strong. When they are fully grown, I wonder just how tall they will be.

Well, not really, but the thought of a "windmill farm" does bring such images. What you saw is an electrical generation system. Each windmill contains a generator and they all (I believe I read that there are 67 windmills in the system you observed) are tied into the electrical grid with the coal and nuclear plants. Some think of it as part of our "green" and renewable future. Others consider it simply an eye sore.

Larry Krengel


It is likely that what you saw was a wind farm. These windmills or wind turbines use the force of the wind to generate electricity. Some states, like California, have a lot of wind farms. There are a few in Illinois and are sited where favorable winds occur. They are becoming more popular because the technology is becoming affordable and reliable, and the cost compares favorable with power produced by conventional electric power plants.

Bob Erck



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