In Which I Visit A Wind Farm and Alex Rolls His Eyes Repeatedly

What shall I say about wind turbines?

Wind Farm Solo

The way Alex geeks out about Percy Jackson and Star Wars is the way I geek out about wind farms. I think they are really cool.

(Alex says I do not, by any stretch of the imagination, geek out about wind farms. He says I don’t know anything about them.)

But that is not entirely for lack of trying. I did, after all, spend four weeks before we went to Omaha, poring over maps, trying to find the name and contact info for a wind farm in the hopes that we could wrangle a tour.

Okay. So Alex says he knows almost every single freaking Greek myth, and I know nothing about wind farms. Therefore, this is a poor comparison.

But he’s laughing. And so am I. So we’re going to just go with it. And no, Alex, we are not going to look up Greek myths to prove your point. I got it. I’m ignoring it.

The point is, we stopped for gas in a tiny little town in the far northwest corner of Missouri, and almost as soon as we topped the rise, there they were: a whole landscape of wind turbines. And, unlike the one we saw in Perry, Iowa over Memorial Day—these were RUNNING.

I have wanted for several years to know what these things sound like. One of the big arguments against wind farms is the noise, after all. So I was very curious to know exactly what kind of noise level we’re talking about here. But I live in, hmmm, a state that is, by and large, unconvinced of the desirability of alternative energy. And although locally we are starting to have a middlingly-decent amount of solar, there’s only one wind turbine in my town, and it’s not one of those big suckers with the blades as long as two semi tractor beds.

Wind Farm Blade

So after we filled up the van, I asked the young woman at the counter where there was a road that would take us out among them, very close to them, without trespassing.

She looked at me like I was crazy, and she said: “Um, I don’t know? I live here, but I don’t really know anything about it.”

Well, then. There you go.

So we wandered east out of town for about two or three miles until we hit the jackpot: a gravel road bisecting two enormous soybean fields, with a dozen or so wind turbines scattered around them.

Wind Farm Landscape

We pulled into the driveway, stopping shy of the (open) gate that said “authorized personnel only,” and got out.

(How about that shadow?)
(How about that shadow?)

Wind Farm base

So what does a wind farm sound like? Alex says: “They didn’t sound like ANYTHING! They sounded like WIND BLOWING!”

I’d hoped to share a video, because I can’t be the only one who’s curious about this, right? (Right????) But it was incredibly windy that day, so the video I took with the DSLR came out with nothing but, well, wind noise. But the answer to my long-burning question about a) how much noise does a wind farm make, and b) what kind of noise, exactly, is: there’s a low hum that I can’t describe very well because it was buried under the noise of the wind blowing across the ridges. And then there’s the slow, lazy pulse of the blades: sssshhhhSHOOPsssshhhhSHOOPsssshhhhSHOOP.

It’s not silent by any stretch of the imagination, but it’s not as loud as I-70 from my backyard, which is a mile from the highway. So anyone who fusses about noise pollution needs to just calm down, because people are always building monstrosities of homes twelve feet from eight-lane freeways, so the whole noise pollution argument doesn’t hold water.

And I got to stand at the base of a running wind turbine. Check that one off the bucket list.