Saddleback Ridge Wind ProjectLesson Plans > Field Trips > United States > Maine
Saddleback Ridge Wind Project
I'm writing about Saddleback Ridge, because this is the wind farm we've visited. Many other operational wind farms also have open house days, community days, or school days, during which visitors can come learn more about renewable wind energy installations. If you're interested in taking a school group, and their schedule of open houses doesn't match your academic schedule, it doesn't hurt to contact them about another date and try to make special arrangements.
What to Expect
As you approach the Carthage/Dixfield area, you'll see the turbines towering over Saddleback Ridge. You won't, however, have any idea how massive they really are; at a distance our sense of size usually deceives us! When your students reach the summit, they will be awestruck at how massive the turbines really are.
You will drive partway up the mountain to the main building of the installation. At that point, you may feel like you're only a short walk from the turbines. But again, your sense of size and distance will fool you; they'll tell you "no, you don't want to walk to the turbines; they're still well over a mile away." Instead of walking, they'll load you all onto a school bus, and drive you the rest of the way.
Once you're standing at the base of one of the turbines, you finally get a sense for just how big they are. You can see in the picture here my son and I standing at the base; a friend snapped a picture for me.
As you stand under the turbines, you'll hear the repeated "roar" of the blades as they swish by you at high speeds. Woosh! Woosh! Woosh!
Here's a fun activity to do with your students: if someone has a watch, time how long it takes for a blade to go a full cycle. You can also count "one-thousand-one, one-thousand-two, one-thousand-three" to approximate it. Since the blades are in excess of 100 feet (ask the tour guide for an exact number), you can find the circumference of the path traced by the tip of the blade (using 100 as the length, it would be 2 x 100 x 3.14 = 628. Divide this by the number of seconds it takes, and you've got the speed in feet per second. Multiply this by 3600 and divide by 5280 to get the speed in miles per hour. Your students will be astounded at how fast those tips are moving; they certainly don't look like they're moving at such insanely high speeds!
The guide who takes you up to the turbines will be knowledgeable, and will answer any questions that you or your students/children have.
The day we were there they were giving out free Saddleback Ridge t-shirts, and had a free lunch available.
How to Get There
The wind farm is off route 2 between Peru and Wilton, in Carthage. If you're heading toward Wilton, it will be on your left. The name of the road is Winter Hill Road. Once you're on Winter Hill Road, the wind farm is on Highland Drive.
The easiest way to contact any of the wind farms in the state is either through their company websites or their official Facebook pages. Patriot Renewables (which owns Saddleback Ridge) says to watch their Facebook page for news of open houses and other events.
Other Wind Farms
Saddleback Ridge is owned by Patriot Renewables, which has other wind farms.There are also other energy companies operating wind farms in the state. If Saddleback Ridge isn't convenient, depending on your location, there are many other locations throughout the state. The easiest way to find them is to visit the Wikipedia "Wind power in Maine" page; this contains an up-to-date listing with a map, so you can see where in the state each installation is.