Aug 242011

By Naomi Hatch–

Farming has been a way of life in Taylor since pioneers settled in 1878, but over the past 133 years, farming has changed.

In 1960, Leroy Saline moved to Taylor from the Gila Valley and began farming. His children continue that tradition, with one of their crops being Taylor sweet corn.

Farming on the Saline farm is becoming more and more automated as they keep up with new technology.

They recently put up a windmill that produces 90 kilowatts (kW) of electricity. It is 80’ tall to the center of the blades, which harvest wind out of a 60’ circle. The tower weighs 13 tons and the nacelle, or top, weighs 6.5 tons, including the blades, two generators and the plate they sit on.

The windmill is anchored with 70 yards of cement and close to 1,700 lbs. of rebar. It is placed on a pedestal that has 24 anchor bolts holding it to the concrete foundation.

The windmill is automated, and has a smaller generator inside of the windmill that comes on when the wind goes down to about 3½ meters per second, or seven to eight miles per hour (mph), and produces up to 18 kW from small breezes, explained Alma Saline of Saline Family Farms. He noted that when it gets to seven to eight meters per second, or 13 to 14 mph, it shifts to the big generator.

“There’s a weather vane that lines up the blades to get the wind,” explained Saline. Everything is automated and controlled from Saline’s home, which is approximately a mile from the turbine.

“It’s not new, but it’s completely refurbished,” said Saline of the farm’s windmill. He explained that a California company buys turbines from Denmark, takes them apart and ships them to California, where they are refurbished. Saline said that Denmark’s wind turbine technology changes so fast that they’ll take an older one down and put a new one in place rather than upgrade.

“We should collect enough energy to offset our electric bill for one well,” said Saline, citing the increasing cost of electricity. “It’s gone up so much we’re just hedging against future electric costs.”

Saline explained that the local Arizona Public Service Co. office gives incentives, and the Salines signed up for that program. The installation was facilitated, in part, by APS Renewable Energy Incentive Program. This program offers financial incentives to customers who add renewable energy systems to their homes or business. The program is funded by APS customers and approved by the Arizona Corporation Commission.

The windmill and the pump provide water to irrigate crops.

Byline by Naomi Hatch

This windmill located on the Saline Family Farm in Taylor provides 90 kilowatts of electricity. It was installed, in part, through an Arizona Public Service Co. Renewable Energy Incentive program.