If you’ve never driven past a field full of wind turbines by the highway, you would be amazed at just how tall they really are even from a distance. But what if you could walk right up to – and under them – when out on your favorite hiking or biking trail? Puget Sound Energy’s Wild Horse Wind Farm allows just that.

Wild Horse Wind Farm, located in Kittitas County, Washington, generates electricity for 80,000 homes via 149 wind turbines placed high across 10,000 privately-owned acres of Whiskey Dick Mountain ridge tops.

Each standing 351 feet tall with a rotor diameter of 264 feet, the 1.8-megawatt Vestas V80 turbines are capable of producing electricity with wind speeds of just 9 mph – which is easily reached most of the year – but generate peak power when winds are at 31 mph. The 273-megawatt facility broke ground in 2005 with plans for 125 turbines and was expanded upon in 2009 with additional 24. The area is also home to the Pacific Northwest’s largest solar-power array, capable of generating 500 kilowatts of electricity.

Visitors to the wind farm have access to miles of paved, gravel, and dirt trails winding their way around and up to Whiskey Dick peak, as well as the Renewable Energy Center at Wild Horse offering educational displays and tours. Most people don’t get a chance to see wind turbines up close like this and it must be magnificent to stand directly underneath one as its blades fly by. By allowing hikers, bikers, hunters and horseback riders to get up close and personal to the farm, Puget Sound Energy is encouraging interest in the technology which in turn could result in further support for more wind turbines when we need them.

Take a tour inside one of Puget Sound Energy’s wind turbines:

[via Seattle Times]

Image Credit: aa7ae/Flickr