Wind power is a form of solar energy, created by circulation patterns in the Earth’s atmosphere that are driven by heat from the sun. The energy that the wind contains can either be used directly or it can be converted into that high-value, highly flexible and useful form of energy we call electricity. Wind is called a renewable energy source because the wind will blow as long as the sun shines.
The wind turns the blades around a rotor. The rotor is connected to the main shaft, which spins a generator to create electricity.
The electricity generated from the wind farm is delivered to the Pennsylvania-Jersey-Maryland grid (P-J-M) through high voltage transmission lines. The electricity is then transmitted to the Local Distribution Company (Pepco or BGE) via the P-J-M grid. That electricity then travels through the local distribution lines to WSSC Water facilities.
Each turbine tower is just over 400-feet tall, about the height of a 40-story building.
The blades span 141 feet each.
The wind farm is in Stoystown, a borough in Somerset County, Pennsylvania. That’s about a three-and-a-half hour drive from the Washington Metropolitan area.
WSSC Water is paying a fixed price per megawatt hour (MWh) over 10 years for 85% of the farm’s wind power output. As electric prices continue to increase, this is a cost saving measure for WSSC Water. We now have a consistent, predictable generation cost for about 30% of our electricity supply.
The 10-year wind power agreement that WSSC Water has signed with Constellation Energy Projects & Services Group, Inc., of Baltimore (Constellation) will lower energy expenditures and provide long-term price stability.
Wind energy is clean. Electricity generated by wind turbines won’t dirty the air or emit pollutants like other energy sources. That means less smog, less acid rain and fewer greenhouse gas emissions. Wind power does not require any drilling, mining or transportation of fuel, eliminating the hazardous and polluting waste caused by the majority of energy production that is partially responsible for contaminating our nation’s rivers, streams, bays and oceans.
The sound turbines produce is similar to a light whooshing or swishing sound. When compared to other types of industrial facilities, such as manufacturing plants, wind farms are very quiet. According to the American Wind Energy Association (AWEA), an operating modern wind farm at a distance of 750 to 1000 feet is no noisier than a kitchen refrigerator or a moderately quiet room. Even in rural or low-density areas, where there is little additional sound to mask that of the wind turbines, the sound of the blowing wind is often louder than the sounds produced by the turbines.