Midwest Energy News profiles the push to build the Wildcat wind farm in Elwood, Ind.


[A] major construction project is under way on these 1,700 acres of central Indiana farmland. The goal: build more than 100 wind turbines, each 30 stories tall, and get them running by midnight on December 31 … Access roads have to be built into farm fields; foundations have to be excavated. To hold up a single turbine it takes 400 cubic yards of concrete and 36 tons of rebar—meaning the entire wind farm will use enough concrete to pour a 3-foot-wide, 4-inch-thick sidewalk from central Indiana to St. Louis. Each of the five sections of each 300-foot tower is transported to the site on a semi, then stacked in place with the sort of crane used to build skyscrapers.

The nacelle—a fiberglass-encased box with more than 70 tons of equipment inside, including the electricity-generating components of the turbine—is placed atop the tower. Then each of the 160-foot blades must be mounted on top of the tower.

All this work means jobs, and lots of them, [construction manager Mike] Behringer said. One hundred seventy people, including iron workers, crane operators, laborers, and linemen are all employed building the first phase of the Wildcat wind farm, which will have the capacity to produce 200 MW of energy.

Why that Dec. 31 deadline? On the last day of the year, the production tax credit (PTC) for wind power expires, eradicating a significant support for the growing industry. By some estimates, the expiration of the PTC could cost nearly 40,000 jobs — as Midwest Energy News notes:

White Construction is racing the clock to get all 125 turbines built by then so the project’s developer, Chicago-based E.ON Climate and Renewables, can qualify the turbines for the 2.2 cents tax credit for every kWh of electricity produced.