A breezy wind can cool you off, but also mess up your hair, blow sand in your face and mischievously whoosh away leaves you just raked. On the other hand much stronger storm-driven winds can wreak havoc on everything in its path.
Suffice it to say, wind does what it wants, when it wants, and with all the power it can muster.
Unless you harness it.
Wind farms are not just an idea any longer – they are located all over the world. They remain an idea that makes a lot of sense and continues to evolve. In their essence, wind farms harness the wind with an array of energy-producing windmills or wind turbines, typically towering over a large swath of land in far-off rural areas or unusually off-shore, such as the Walney Wind Farm found nine miles off the coast of England in the Irish Sea.
Closer to our home at Western Washington University, one project that’s nearing completion is the Skookumchuck Wind Energy Project, slated for operation by the end of 2018. With an array of 51 wind turbines that crisscross Lewis and Thurston counties in Washington, it will interconnect with Puget Sound Energy’s transmission system as part of a voluntary program PSE put into place to meet goals for carbon neutrality for electric energy in the state.
Standing at the top of ridges to maximize wind exposure, the towers of power span upwards nearly 500 feet and at peak times will churn out 176 megawatts of energy. That means some 29,000 homes could be powered through wind turbine use.
According to Western Washington University, PSE saw an opportunity to give businesses and consumers in the Pacific Northwest the ability to opt-in to a 100 percent renewable energy resource. Western has decided to opt-in and intends on being fully powered by wind by the end of July 2019.
In fact, colleges and universities across the United States are beginning to take important steps to move to renewable energy sources such as wind. It is also important that large corporations take similar steps to use renewable energy sources to ensure a reduction in their carbon footprint.
For a substantial number of corporations to make the transition, local changes need to be made first. Community members must push for renewable energy within their cities, districts and counties to help facilitate a global adjustment.Look for our next two blog installments in October, when we will consider more about Western’s intentions regarding its conversion to renewable energy sources and also take a look at renewable energy opportunities, in general.