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Windmill Tours - North Palm Springs, California

Southpoint visited Palm Springs, and took an educational 90 minute tour of a large working wind farm. This is the only tour of a working wind farm available in the world.

A variety of windmills at different heights are used to best utilize the wind currentThe windmill farm generates enough electricity to power the entire city of Palm Springs and some of the surrounding area. It produces 600-900 megawatts of power. Utilities buy the electricity produced by the 3,100 windmills at the wind farm. The farm runs many different types and styles of windmills. The largest windmills on the property produce enough power for 2,000 homes which would be comparable to a mid-size nuclear reactor. The newest windmills are much more efficient than older models.

The Palm Springs area is unique, as the wind blows hard enough to power the windmills 300 days a year. The San Jacinto mountains are the 3rd highest mountain range in California and provide a wind tunnel through the San Gorgonio Pass along Interstate 10. The wind runs east to west along the pacific plate. The winds usually blow west to east in the mornings and east to west in the afternoon so half of the windmills face east and half west to take advantage of this. Windmills are placed 700 feet apart for optimal use of the wind. As the wind goes through one windmill it becomes dirty and takes about 700 feet before it clears up enough to be used by the next windmill.

In the 1920's and 1930's windmills were the single source of power for farmers. In Egypt windmills are used to power ships. In Holland many farmers use windmills. Windmills have been used since the days of the Phoenicians who used them for milling grain and cutting wood.

Farmers in the midwest today are beginning to make their land available for windmill use by windmill companies who then sell the power to utility companies. Fourteen miles per hour is the average wind required to run a windmill. At greater than 45 miles per hour winds they will shut down. The workers who climb the windmills to do maintenance are called windsmiths. It costs around $30,000 a year to maintain one windmill. The initial cost of a windmill is recouped with 4 1/2 years with typical lifespan of 20-25 years. 75% of all windmills are manufactured in Denmark. The remaining 25% come from Germany. The cost of windmill power is 4 1/2 to 5 cents a kilowatt hour which is very competitive at today's prices. Windmills in California provide enough electricity to serve 1.5 million residents (about enough to power all of San Francisco), providing 1.5 percent of California's energy needs or 1,600 megawatts. As wind power becomes more widely used in the areas where it is practical, it can provide a true renewable energy source.


From Interstate 10 take the Palm Springs/Indian Ave. exit. Go north on Indian Ave. and make an immediate left turn on the north frontage road also known as 20th Ave. Go 1.25 miles and the windmill tour office will be on your right.

Phone 760-251-1997 or 877-449-WIND.

Please make reservations at least 24 hours in advance. Tours are subject to cancellation due to inclement weather...please call ahead to confirm. There are four tours available daily: 9AM, 11AM, 1PM, and 3PM. Off season hours may vary.

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