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2010 Ride

“CLIMBING A WIND TURBINE” (Saturday, October 2, 2010)

Easy ride today. Pedaled a quick 23 miles south to Concordia to meet Michelle and Bruce Graham, joined by their teenage son, Connor. Received the red carpet treatment. Started out with a grand tour of the Cloud County Community College Wind Technology Center, where Bruce teaches. Cloud County should very proud to host one the nation’s first and largest certified wind technology schools in the country. At lunch, got an opportunity to interview Tom Cunningham, one of the landowners working with Horizon Wind Energy on the local Meridian Way project.

After that, loaded the trike onto a trailer (to haul it to the Graham’s, where I’ll be staying for the next couple of days) and headed down the road to the school’s two 100- kilowatt wind turbines. After getting harnessed up, Bruce walked Michelle and I through the routine for tower climbs. Then the three of us scrambled 100 feet up the ladder inside the tower to a small platform at the top.

When I popped through, I was surprised by how little floor there was versus the size of the hole (where you could see all the way to the bottom). I guess I was expecting something a little more substantial.

Then Bruce opened the door to the outside of the nacelle (the name for the compartment at the top of the tower) and showed me the tiny ledge.  I asked him if he was expecting me to walk out on that little ledge, and he said, “That’s what you wanted, wasn’t it?” He was right, of course, so I clipped in, put one foot on the ledge and shimmied a few feet over to the ladder rungs on the top of the nacelle to check out the view from outside the tower. For someone who’s not a big fan of heights, I sure had a good time out there on that little ledge 100’ off the ground.

Then interviewed Bruce inside the nacelle.

After descending back to terra firma, we drove to the nearby Meridian Way project, a 201 megawatt project developed by Horizon that boasts 3 megawatt Vestas wind turbines (the largest installed anywhere in America). Very impressive. We need lots more wind projects like this, and bigger, and we need them yesterday.

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