Name: Cathy C.
Date: June 2004
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?
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
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.
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
Click here to return to the Engineering Archives
Update: June 2012