Recently, I took a trip out to the PSE Wild Horse Wind and Solar Facility in Kittitas County, Washington, and learned firsthand where my green power comes from. An added bonus was the drive east on Highway 2 over the Cascades where I experienced an abundant feast of fall colors and blue skies above.
My time living in Texas amid prehistoric looking oil rigs prepared me for the odd visual presentation dotting the eastern Washington horizon. These giant windmills reminded me of huge flowers swaying in the high desert breezes. Impressive really.
At Wild Horse, there are 149 wind turbines that can produce 273 MW of electricity or enough to power 70,000 homes. The wind towers are 221 feet high and weigh 104 tons about a 1/3 as tall asthe Seattle Space Needle. Each turbine blade is 129 feet long and weighs over 7 tons. The average car is just over 13′ and weighs almost 3500 lbs.Additionally, there are two major solar arrays, one with 315 panels producing 52 kW and another on the ridge with 248 panels capable of producing 45 kW. The site is situated where winds and sun are strong year round. This energy is part of the renewal sources that customers fund as part of a utility company’s green power portfolio.
Of course, those actual green electrons don’t directly travel to my home and feed my appliances. They are part of Puget Sound Energy’s portfolio of power sources that produce my electricity.
Luckily the sites’ learning center is open daily from April through November and offers free guided- and self-guided tours. There’s even a conference center available for groups that want to take advantage of the broad vistas offered at the top of Whisky Dick Mountain.
I’m hoping take to my kids’ high school Environmental Studies class there for a field trip soon, as wind and solar energy will become the norm for future generations. As it turns out, I learned that the friendly staff at the Renewable Energy Center enjoy sharing their knowledge with young and old alike. Next time you are heading east over the cascades stop and learn about renewable energy and tell them I sent ya’! — alex