Answers may be blowin’ in the wind

HARRISBURG, Pa. – There’s at least one wind farm currently in Pennsylvania, but if other locations are found – and enough landowners willing – more could be built.

Curtis Magnessum of Conservation Consultants Inc. presented several programs on the opportunities of a wind farm in Pennsylvania during the recent Pa. State Farm Show.

“Using wind as a power source has many benefits, not only the obvious environmental benefits, but also the economic benefits that can expand far beyond the actual farm itself.”

A wind farm acts as a power plant using wind to create energy.

There are several components to a wind farm. The first, and most obvious, is that there must be open land on which the wind farm will be built.

“Obviously, wide open land, free of obstructions is essential for a wind farm,” Magnessum explained.

Other key elements must be built on the farm, such as wind turbines. Usually, each turbine takes about one acre of space to install and properly manage, he said.

The turbines are used to generate electricity. Turbines are able to generate wind that flows anywhere between seven and 50 miles per hour.

Next, the energy flows along a transmission line to the substation. The substation acts as a gatekeeper and helps to control flow of electricity to buildings. Other equipment includes cabling and a weather station to monitor the flow of wind and adjust the turbines to maximize the wind input.

Magnessum recommends that access roads and a visitor center be installed on a wind farm.

“Access roads will allow for easier care and maintenance of the equipment. A visitor center will help educate and inform the public of the values and benefits of a wind farm. This center will also attract tourists, who will have a positive impact on the local economy,” Magnessum said.

Magnessum there is a wind farm in operation in Garrett, Pa. He said that this particular site created hundreds of jobs and each farmer who leased the land netted $20,000 in profit.

While there are many benefits, Magnessum said it is not as easy as finding an open space on a hill. “Finding a place takes over a year of studying and testing,” he said.

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