The Hancock-Henderson Quill, Inc.

Wind Turbines Changing Illinois' Landscape

by Dessa Rodeffer, Quill Publisher-Owner

As near as next week, AmerenIP could be reaping the benefits of wind generated energy thanks to the installation of dozens of windmills on farmland west of Peoria.

The view from Tanner's orchard, at the intersection of Highways 17 and 40 shows these towering power producers across the rolling harvested cornfields of Marshall County in what is known as Camp Grove.

Just one of these giant wind turbines will produce enough energy to power 40 houses.

Each of these white structures, fashioned like a giant pinwheel, are 17 stories tall and the moving blades span 353 feet. Extra energy not used in Marshall County will be pumped into Chicago for AmerenIP's use there.

Mortenson is the company that builds and installs these monsters after wind studies are done that determine where each can be installed to gain the needed wind advantage that produces a steady energy source.

Watching the installation of these huge creatures was quite the sight last week. After the first part of the hollow tower was set, a crane lifted a second one that wedged down into the first one. Then a generator was lifted and installed and finally, the blades of the pinwheel were set in place.

A Geneseo photographer Kerry Weir was on the scene and said even though she was afraid of heights, she was able to accomplish her assignment, climb up into the 17 story structure and photograph from the observatory.

The following day she was being flown out over the entire Camp Grove area where she was to photograph the fields of wind towers.

From a distance, the structures looked too thin to be able to climb inside them, but walking up to one as they lay on the ground waiting to be installed, one can easily see that a pickup truck could even fit inside.

Weir was told that everything is being maintained by G.E. (General Electric) and the energy is "a heck of a lot cleaner" than most.

Weir said that her in-laws lived on a farm near Tanner's Orchard and they were one of many who rented 3 acres to house a single wind turbine system. They were to receive $1000 a month for the rental.

Now, in nearby Keokuk, Iowa around 400 jobs will be created with the building of a 347,000 square foot wind turbine tower manufacturing plant by Hendricks Holding Co, it was announced last week. The plant promises to produce 12 to 15 towers a week and to give approximately 400 workers an average of $23.50 an hour to build the towers which weigh about 80 tons each and stand approximately 260 feet tall, reports said. An earlier press release on Sept. 21st told of another wind turbine plant opening in Ft. Madison, IA by Siemens Power Generation (PG) expecting to produce 600 wind turbine blades a year in a 311,000 sq. ft. plant.