A windfarm you can visit in Washington State (Wild Horse Wind and Solar Facility, Ellensburg)

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November 9, 2016 by Terumi

Puget Sound Energy Wild Horse Wind and Solar Facility in Ellensburg

Before you drive out to Ellensburg to visit one of the only windfarm visitor centers in the United States, realize that the Wild Horse Wind and Solar Visitor Center is only open from April 1st-November 15th.  If you are visiting during this time, there are usually some pretty awesome free tours and other events going on in the area and you really need to check this place out! During the other months there is a number on the Puget Sound Energy website to call if you really want to try and figure out a tour but weather and snow can be a big issue.

PSE Wild Horse Wind and Solar Visitor Center in Ellensburg

We went recently on a whim.  I was looking up things to do in Ellensburg because it’s just east of our cabin and I was looking for a side-trip and read that you could actually go inside a wind turbine at this windfarm owned by Puget Sound Energy.  This sounded like something my kids would love.  My family is very into renewable energy and we drive an electric car so we are always wanting to learn more about innovative energy solutions.  We’ve also heard a lot about energy in the news lately and we really want to be informed.

If you’re into driving electric, Ellensburg has a Tesla car charger.  It is one of the busier car chargers we’ve been to and it’s right near a hotel with a pool that I’m tempted to see if we can go swimming in one day while we charge.  Wouldn’t that be an awesome use of charging time?  We usually play football when we charge but this time, the whole family snoozed because we got up super early to make the 10am tour.

You can charge your electric car at the Wild Horse Wind Farm in Ellensburg Washington

If we had brought our plug we could have charged at the Wild Horse Wind and Solar Facility.  They have a few plugs available, you just have to ask where and how to park electric.  There are also priority parking spots for hybrid and low-emission vehicles.  It was really cool to see the wind turbines show up on the dashboard too!

Wind Turbines showed up on the dashboard of the Tesla

This visitor center is a couple miles up a hill in an area that reminds me of Iceland.  It is stunning and as you drive by giant wind turbines it is amazing to see how big they really are up close.  In the visitor’s center there are lots of interactive activities that teach about how electricity here is generated and it was busy and full of hunters because there is a huge heard of elk in the area and the hunters help keep the numbers in check.  I was surprised with all the people in the center that we were the only ones who were there for the tour.  On the tour you get to go inside one of the big working wind turbines.  I won’t post pictures of the inside of the turbine because you really just need to experience that in real life-it’s pretty amazing and I can’t believe this tour is free.

Looking up as the wind turbine gets turned off in Ellensburg

Before I went on the tour I did not realize how much of Puget Sound Energy’s electricity is produced by wind.  It is actually about 8% and considering there have only 3 wind farms in the state, that is a lot of energy.  We were curious about the environmental impact and it sounds like there aren’t a lot of drawbacks to using this type of energy.  I loved how even solar panels were used on site to offset the power used by the wind turbines.

Solar panel at Wild Horse Wind Farm in Ellensburg

Apparently one of the biggest drawbacks to wind farms is that people think they look ugly.  As we wandered through the towers learning about the plant conservation in the area, and the clean way energy was being produced, I couldn’t have imagined a more beautiful sight.

Exploring the Wild Horse Wind Farm in Ellensburg with kids

If you ever come through this area, it’s a fantastic stop.  I’m already planning on coming back in the spring.

(PS. If you’re looking for a lunch spot, we ate at the Yellow Church Cafe.  And I really would have stopped at one of the Winegars for ice cream if I wasn’t totally full.)

(PPS. If you know of any other visitor centers like this, please let me know, I love visiting and learning about how things are made.  And if you drive electric and have some favorite charging stops I’d love to hear them too!)

 

 

 


9 comments »

  1. fran says:

    I really enjoyed the Heavenly bread that was served at the Yellow Church cafe there in Ellensburg. Yum! I hope you tried it!

  2. Looks like a very cool place to visit.

  3. I had not spent much time in Washington State until this past September. I was surprised at the number of wind farms and the agriculture. I am excited to return to Washington State as I really enjoyed my visit.

  4. That’s super cool. Love that they have this farm and that so much of the area uses wind energy. More people should do that!

  5. Lara Dunning says:

    I visited the wind farm last year. Had a great time and really enjoyed the tour. Very enjoyable side trip when visiting Ellensburg.

  6. Vyjay Rao says:

    I am always fascinated by wind farms and the windmills. The windmills standing tall with their fans revolving to the breeze presents to me a romantic image, for some reason. They do an awesome job generating energy. Everyone needs to do their mite in contributing to conserve energy and look for alternate sources.

  7. Alex Datsev says:

    Fascinating read! I imagine going inside one of these big wind turbines is quite an experience for both kids and adults.

  8. NW Dams says:

    The windmills are amazingly big when you stand beneath them. Having places like these and the nearby dams on the Columbia River open to the public make for some great roadside attractions to check out.

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