Smoky Hills Wind Farm
Travelers on Interstate 70 across Kansas cannot help but notice the Smoky Hills Wind Farm located about 20 miles west of Salina, Kansas in Lincoln and Ellsworth counties. Covering some 20,000 acres with 110 different landowners receiving royalties from the project this 250 megawatt wind farm was completed in 2008 and spans both sides of Interstate 70.
At the time of its completion it was the largest wind farm in Kansas and produces enough electricity to provide power for about 85,000 average homes annually. Built in two different phases with the second phase being completed in 2008 the Smoky Hill Wind Farm is managed by the Italian renewable energy company Enel and the power generated by the large Vestas V80 turbines is sold to five different utilities: Sunflower Electric Power Corporation, Midwest Energy Corporation, Kansas City Board of Public Utilities, the City of Independence, Missouri and the City of Springfield, Missouri.
While the large wind turbines are easily visible from Interstate 70 and their flashing red lights can be seen for miles at night, the best way to get close to these engineering marvels is to get off the Interstate and travel some of the well maintained county roads. There you will find several examples of the old prairie windmills that harnessed the wind to pump water and these new sleek wind turbines that tower over them and harness the wind to produce electricity.