On the border between North Dakota and South Dakota, there stands a new wind farm. With 61 towers on the north side of the state line and 59 on the south side, it is a magnificent sight. The towers are in a linear cluster that is perpendicular to the direction of prevailing winds, so that it runs southwest to northeast. It runs along a slight rise that interrupts the otherwise flat plains landscape, called the Coteau des Prairies Ridge. Much of the land in this area, due to the sandy soil and the hilly undulating topography is dedicated to cattle pasture rather than crops, and the cattle do graze unfazed by their new neighbors. Approaching from the west, with the low afternoon sun behind the car, the towers glowed white under the white clouds.
This wind farm, named Tatanka, has a generating capacity of 180 megawatts, which they say is enough for over 60,000 homes. Compare this to the largest coal-burning electric plant in North Dakota, Coal Creek Station, that produces around 1000 megawatts, at the cost of 8 million tons of coal per year. This wind farm, then, makes about the same amount of energy as 1.5 million tons of coal. Just 6 wind farms like this could replace that coal-burning plant. Considering that it felt like I drove for miles and miles to get to it, and that it was relatively unobtrusive on the horizon when I finally got to it, that would seem like a pretty fair trade.