Baker has often given educational talks about wind towers like
those on Fairview Acres, the farming corporation she runs with
her husband, Ron, and her brother and sister-in-law, Chuck and
The partners raise 11,000 hogs a year and grow corn and soybeans
on the 2,000-acre farm. Also rising from the fields are four
wind turbines, each located within a half-mile of the Baker
"I'm 100 percent in favor of them," Baker said. "I'm highly,
highly in favor of the company we used."
Rail Splitter Wind Farm, which takes in parts of Tazewell and
Logan counties, sits on a glacial moraine known as Union Ridge.
According to the company's Web page, the 67 GE SLE 1.5-megawatt
turbines the wind farm has installed have a combined capacity of
100.5 megawatts -- enough to power approximately 28,000 average
Illinois homes with clean energy each year. The wind farm
achieved commercial operation in September 2009.
Baker's enthusiasm over the use of wind turbines is fueled by
America's need to produce more electricity. She says the power
produced in Logan County probably goes to the East Coast -- it
is not used locally.
"Are we getting any benefits? Probably not," she said. "But if
it alleviates the situation there, it helps us."
Rail Splitter Wind Farm is owned by Horizon Wind Energy LLC.
According to Horizon's website, the company and its subsidiaries
develop, construct, own and operate wind farms throughout North
Based in Houston, Texas, Horizon has 27 wind farms and over 15
offices across the United States. The company has more than
1,900 turbines in operation and approximately 40 million hours
of wind turbine operational history.
Baker said quite a bit of acreage was tied up
with construction equipment while the towers at Fairview Acres
were being built. "There was definitely compaction, but they
were more than generous in paying for compaction," she said. "At
that time, prices were high, so they were more than generous."
Baker said there are 4 or 5 acres of ground that won't ever
produce yields at optimum levels again, "but it's nothing we
can't deal with."
She said field tiles were also broken during
construction, but a call to the company about
the damage always produced a quick repair.
"We didn't have any problems," she said.
"Each windmill and road took about 1.2 acres out of production.
The windmill company (which signs a long-term lease for the
ground) does pay property tax on that acreage."
Baker said one benefit to farmers is the
roads in the fields leading to the turbines. "During harvest,
you can put your tractor and wagons on those roads," she said.
"It gets the equipment off of the main roads, and it has come
into quite valuable play in a wet fall."
[to top of second column]
Baker said the shadow of the turbine blades has caused a slight
problem when the sun comes up in the east. Besides the shadows
cast on the house, the blades throw dark flickers into the hog
"You can be out there and just catch a glimpse of movement out
of the corner of your eye," she said. "But then you realize what
it is. My answer is to pull the blind down. You can adjust."
Baker said long-term, if the windmill company goes bankrupt or
shuts down, a fund set up by the Logan County Board will pay for
the removal and cleanup of the towers. "There will always be
concrete in the ground," she said. "No one could ever build a
house there with a basement -- but again, that's always something you can adjust
Logan County receives great benefits from the presence of wind
farms, according to Baker.
"There is a huge amount of money coming in," she said. "When we
live in a very windy county, we're bound to get more wind farms."
Baker said the wind farms are a way for the county to benefit
with little or no work. "(The windmill company is) going to fix
the roads better than they were," she said. "There will be seven
miles of nice road."
Baker said farmers with turbines on their property also benefit
financially, but not that much.
"It is more than those 2 acres would make -- between $5,000 and
$10,000 a tower," she
said. "That's not a lot if you only have one tower.
"You could take a nice vacation, but not go out and buy a
Baker says her main motivation in championing wind energy is a
desire to "help the world" with a power source that does not
deplete other natural resources, such as the life-giving aquifer
that runs beneath Logan County.
This is one of the
articles you will find in our special Spring 2012 Farm Outlook
The magazine is online now.
Click here to view all the articles, which include:
Introduction by John Fulton
Weather: The biggest variable
2011 crop yields
Protecting your income with insurance
The value of land conservation
Property taxes on farmland
Land value in Logan County
Increasing yield with aerial application
The importance of Ag Scholarships