The people behind central Illinois’ wind industry

This is an archived article and the information in the article may be outdated. Please look at the time stamp on the story to see when it was last updated.

ELLSWORTH, IL (KPLR) - Chances are, you're aware of the wind industry in central Illinois. You've seen those huge wind turbines out in the fields heading north on the way to Chicago.

Harvesting the wind is perhaps the best way to explain what they do at EDP Renewables Twin Groves wind farm in McLean County, Illinois. 240 wind turbines each stand 270 feet tall. they're spread out over 50 square miles near the towns of Arrowsith, Saybrook, and Ellsworth. The wind turns the giant fan blades and the attached turbine generates electricity.

"Generally speaking it gets sold into the industry. So that's always a question of where the power goes. So the electricity itself goes to the nearest load source, into the power lines, which is an interconnected grid." said Operations Manager Matt Cicero.

We visited twin groves wind farm in mid-October on what turned out to be, a particularly windy day.

"One of the things developers look for in wind industry is of course a windy location and access to transmission lines." said Matt Cicero.

Wind is a free fuel that seems to be in abundant supply on the plains of central Illinois. These tall, quiet towers of technology share space with, and decorate the horizon for, people like Jim Adams and his family.

"They don't bother me. They're pretty quiet. And my personal opinion I think we need to do something to rid ourselves of oil dependence." said rural Ellsworth resident Jim Adams.

Cicero says the rental agreement EDP Renewables has with some of Adams' neighbors pays for access to the ground beneath the turbines, and access to the air in front of them.

"Really, we're leasing the wind resource, and the exact footprint of the collection system, the access road, and the turbine itself." said Matt Cicero.