On February 23rd, 10 Students from Seton La Salle High School and a pair of their teachers visited a wind farm located in the heart of Patton Township. They stepped from the bus into driving rain and a wind that blew against them stinging their faces. They met, huddled together among the cold and rain, with Michael Hoffman the Highland Assistant Site Manager for Everpower Wind Holdings.
The students were able to see firsthand the real physical reality of renewable wind energy. Towering 300 meters overhead the wind turbine stood cutting through the morning fog, rotating and continuously generating power. We were’t allowed to get too close, as the ice warnings from recent snow and rain made it unsafe. The low hum of the the power substation was not audible over the driving wind which made the location perfect for harnessing of wind power.
While it was unfortunate that weather conditions, specifically the ice danger warning, prevented the students from being able to get right next to the turbine, the sense of scale was not lost on them. Many of the students were surprised by just how large the wind turbine actually stood. After a few minutes in the cold, everyone retreated back onto the bus for a brief explanation of the day to day operation of a wind farm from our guide for the outing.
We could see the substation from our bus windows. It was built to collect all the energy generated by the turbines and received through the Medium Voltage cables, transformers and a high voltage system to release the electricity into the grid. Every megawatt of installed energy capacity create $1 Million in economic development according to the AWWI. The short stop was well worth the time as we prepared for more time with Wind Power experts at St. Francis Institute for Energy and the Energy Innovation Center in Pittsburgh. The students are working hard on their children’s book about Wind Energy due for release soon!