This year, we have run two stories (“Passing Wind” and “Wind Energy Facts“) on wind farms across the state, and it’s the focus of most questions we receive through Facebook, Twitter, and contact emails.
This website and its writers have no official stance regarding the wind farms of Indiana; we have only given the subject due diligence: hours and hours and HOURS spent combing surveys, assessments, and studies concerning wind energy production.
That said, here are the most common questions we receive on Indiana windmills, written because I assume most Hoosiers hope to learn more on the topic. As an added bonus: I can now redirect every email and inquiry to this story.
Is anyone involved with your website somehow related, employed, or otherwise influenced by representatives of the wind energy industry or supporting organization?
(Sigh) Not at all.
What’s the difference between a windmill, a wind turbine, and a wind farm?
A windmill is a blanket term for any machine that utilizes “sails” to convert the force of wind into rotational energy, including those used in Egypt 2,000 years ago. A wind turbine refers to windmills that convert the force of wind into energy, and is the most common term for the windmills in Indiana.
Instead of wind turbine, you could say wind energy convertor, but that’s a mouthful. A collection of wind turbines owned and/or operated by a company in a localized area is a wind farm.
How many windmills are in Indiana?
As of 2018, Indiana contains approximately 1,237 windmills. I use “approximately” because windmills in various stages of construction are included in this total.
How many wind farms does Indiana have?
If we include those those under construction and future sites, Indiana contains 17 wind farms as of 2018. The largest is Fowler Ridge (Phases I and II) in Benton County, which has 315 wind turbines…Fowler Ridge is also the largest wind farm in the Midwest.
How much power does the state generate from wind power?
Indiana’s wind farms have a design capacity of 2,317 MW of energy production across the state, as of 2018. They use the term “design capacity” or “nameplate capacity” to reflect the wind turbine’s energy production ability, not necessarily its actual output, since numerous factors affect the day-to-day production of wind energy.
How does the output of our wind farms compare to other Indiana energy sources?
As of February, 2019, and using data provided by the US Energy Information Administration…
Around 69% of Indiana’s energy comes from coal, with natural gas second at 18%. Wind farms produce around 6% of the state’s energy (that may not sound like much, but remember that the first Indiana wind farm came online in 2008). The remaining energy production comes from petroleum, ethanol, hydroelectric, and solar power sources.
How much are Indiana landowners paid to place a windmill on their property?
That is a VERY difficult question to answer. The amount depends on the kind of agreement to which the landowner adheres, the wind energy company, the state’s energy incentives, and the amount of energy the wind turbine(s) produces. It’s also almost impossible to research. When it comes to the profits of wind energy, online sources are mostly biased for or against the industry, and very few provide a comfortable, quotable average.
However, one number I feel semi-justified in repeating. In a 2009 industry slideshow, the American Wind Energy Association, a trade association based in Washington, DC, quoted an average of $3,000 to $5,000 rental income per year, per turbine (slide 11). Keep in mind, that’s an industry quote and it’s a decade later now. As I said, I don’t exactly trust that number…but I don’t exactly distrust it either.
If a landowner refuses to host a windmill, will the state of Indiana illegally seize their property and put it up anyway?
Concerning wind energy, I don’t know many cases when this has happened in Indiana, but it can. Just like it has for highways, utility companies, communication companies, and public works that are “benefitting the general public.” It’s called Eminent Domain, part of the “Takings Clause” in the 5th Amendment of the US Constitution. Sorry, but it is literally something you have to accept as an American citizen.
Are windmills responsible for any negative health effects?
Slightly long answer—this half-baked hysteria with the name “Wind Turbine Syndrome” has been a sharp thorn right in my left ass cheek for months. It’s been an electronic parade of conspiracy theories and misspellings.
I’m not typing up yet another refutation. “Wind Turbine Syndrome” is 100%, 24-karat bullshit. Read THIS and THIS and THIS and THIS if you don’t believe me.
Do windmills cause cancer?
Don’t be silly. See question above.
Are you SURE you don’t have ulterior motives as part of the national conspiracy to destroy the coal industry?
(Rolls up newspaper and raps you sharply on the nose) Go sit in the corner.
Can you recommend some interesting, reliable, and unbiased resources on wind energy issues?
I sure can, and consider these my references for the above information as well, so I don’t have to pockmark the article with more links.
Purdue University’s “Landowner’s Guide to Commercial Wind Energy Contracts.”
The Department of Justice’s page entitled “History of the Federal Use of Eminent Domain.”
Read this definitive answer to the alleged effects of wind turbines on public health, published by the Sydney University Medical Center and compiling 25 peer-reviewed studies: “Summary of main conclusions reached in 25 reviews of the research literature on wind farms and health.“
Our Department of Energy interesting animation on the inner-workings of wind turbines “How Do Wind Turbines Work?“
Our Department of Energy’s Data on Wind Energy by State: “2018 Installed Wind Power Capacity“
The US Energy Information Administration’s data packet “Indiana Energy Profile 2017” (released in January, 2019, with the next update available in December, 2019)