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TVA's Buffalo Mountain Wind Power Plant - Spinnin'

Fall 2000

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No Trespassing I got to the power plant when the wind was blowing fairly hard one day. As usual the forbidding No Trespassing signs were trying to keep visitors away. Despite this I was treated to a new sight and sound experience - very large, spinning wind turbines up close and personal.

The noise was not really all that loud, but it was noticeable and distinctive. From one turbine I thought I noticed a change in the sound when the turbine blades reached the downward position in front of the tower. Also, the blades sometimes appeared to speed up and slow down slightly, moving in an almost jerky fashion. Whether this was an illusion or real changes due to wind variations around the rotation, I don't know. You might expect the wind force to vary somewhat, especially from down in front of the tower versus 75 to 150 feet higher and up above the tower or out to the sides. Was it real or imagined? I don't yet know.

Leaning Tower of Buffalo Mountain? As seen here TVA was in the process of installing fencing around the base of the towers. No, there were no signs of seismic activity, and the tower was not leaning on its foundation. Lacking a tripod, the camera was set on a rock pile and the timer was used.

Fire! This is looking northeast from the power plant. Fires were burning in the distance, and movement of the smoke cloud showed the wind was blowing. The smoke from these fires and others eventually reached Oak Ridge and was in the air for a few days. According to an Oak Ridger Newspaper article on 11/6/00 soon afterwards another fire caused the Windrock Road to be blocked. My hypothesis, as yet without basis, is that these seemingly annual arson fires are a tradition dating back to the Coal Creek War around 1892.

I don't know the purpose of the antenna, but it looked interesting.

Spinnin' Here from the southeast of the plant, 2 of the 3 wind turbines are seen spinning. I don't know what was the problem with turbine #1. I purposely forced a slow shutter speed to try to capture the moment. Based on the ~28 RPM rotation and the angle of turbine blade blurring, it should be possible to estimate the shutter speed, but I think it was a 30th or 45th of a second.


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Disclaimer Fine Print: This site is personal, and is independent of TVA or any other organization. Use of the abbreviation "TVA" is purely for descriptive purposes (for example, to distinguish from wind power plants on Buffalo Ridge in Minnesota). No endorsement, no approval, and no involvement by TVA is implied.

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