Thursday, January 31, 2008

Windmills in Palm Springs

Driving the Interstate-10 Highway that passes by Palm Springs and the Coachella Valley, you can't miss the desert windmills. The wind turbines, a renewable energy source, numbering over 4,000, were strategically placed in wind farms in the San Gorgonio pass, one of the windiest spots in the country. Wind is created there when cool ocean breezes mix with hot desert air.

The largest wind turbines are 150 feet tall. The blades are half the length of a football field. One turbine can produce up to 300 kilowatts an hour, the amount of electricity used by a typical household in a month. Electricity produced by the wind turbines in the San Gorgonio Pass is enough to power Palm Springs and the entire Coachella Valley. The windmills were featured in a scene from the film, Rain Man.

A few years back, while researching my novel, The Way Home, I took a guided tour of a wind farm. I was fascinated to see how the windmills work and what goes into running a wind farm. You don't realize how big the turbines are until you see them up close. Here's the link to the windmill tour I visited:

Local residents love or hate the windmills, thinking that they're a useful source of green energy or a blight on the landscape. What do you think?

desert trivia: people who repair the desert windmills are called windsmiths. The term intrigued me so I made Rex Barnett, a character from my novel, The Way Home, a windsmith

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