Wind farms help define Kansas’ beauty

Julie Knapp

I covered some ground over winter break.

After driving through seven states, I’ve seen a lot of sites and historical stops, but found one of the most interesting and most beautiful in western Kansas – wind farms.

I first learned about these farms in one of my science classes in high school, but heard a lot of complaints about them – they’re ugly, they ruin the land in the Great Plains, they’re expensive, etc. – so I didn’t think much of them.

When I saw them up close though, I couldn’t take my eyes off of them, and was compelled to look into them further.

Wind turbines are often placed on isolated lands, where wind causes them to rotate and produce energy. Fields often hold dozens of these wind turbines, which can produce amazing results when working together.

Aquila, a company that provides energy resources, states on their Web site that the largest wind farm in Kansas is in Gray County outside of Montezuma. It started in 2001, and it doesn’t produce carbon dioxide. In fact, one wind turbine, according to JW Prairie Windpower LLC, can provide electricity for 450 households for a year, or 1,800 people.

This isn’t just any kind of energy though – it’s clean power, which doesn’t produce the greenhouse gases that destroy our environment. Greenhouse gases are often blamed for our increase in temperatures, and for global warming.

Energy corporations are often criticized for their major profits. While some of the wind farms are owned by corporations, others can be owned by communities, where the revenues are generated back into the economy, instead of the pockets of corporate CEOs.

For those arguing against these kinds of farms, it’s important to note that the greenhouse gases produced by energy companies could potentially harm the Great Plains anyway.

While Kansas ranks third among states in wind power potential, it’s nice to know we live in a state that cares about environmental protection.

This isn’t where we should stop though. After seeing these wind farms, I’ve realized how much further Kansas can go in producing alternative sources of energy.

Kansas has natural resources that we can use to produce hydroelectric power, and even more solar energy. We shouldn’t go and fill up the Great Plains with a bunch of wind turbines, but using that area now to produce renewable energy sources, could actually save it in the long run.