I was out in West Texas this past weekend and had a little spare time available Saturday morning. What better for an energy policy geek to do than visit the American Wind Power Center in Lubbock, Texas?
The AWPC is a museum showing off about 150 years of windmill technology. Most of the windmills in the collection were intended for pumping water, or sometimes for milling grain, but they have a few historical electrical generators and a pair of new models including a 660 kW Vespa which powers the site and is interconnected to the local utility. On the ground in the above photo is a disassembled GE 1.5 MW generator that will become the centerpiece of a planned addition.
Thanks to a canceled school tour I was able to get a personal tour of the site from executive director Coy Harris. I asked him whether they had any trouble interconnecting the generator to the local power company. He said it took a bit of effort, but they had to work a lot harder with the city in order to install the tower inside the city, at a facility with public access and near a residential neighborhood.
Harris tipped me off that the Farmers Cooperative Compress located on the Southeast edge of town was installing a number of wind turbines, so I headed over to take a look.
NOTES: It turns out that there are a few other windmill museums, see links to museums and other windmill resources here (from Vintage Windmills online magazine).
The student paper at Texas Tech University discussed the AWPC in this 2006 article.