September 13, 2018

The Windy City

There are three different theories why Chicago is called the Windy City. The first is: The Cincinnati and Chicago rivalries, the second: 1890's World Fair and the third is the weather. 

Cincinnati and Chicago were rival cities in the 1860s and 1870s. Cincinnati was well known in the meatpacking trade and it was called "Porkopolis" from at least 1843. Starting from the early 1860s, Chicago surpassed Cincinnati in this trade and proudly claimed the very same “Porkopolis” nickname. The baseball inter-city matches were especially intense. The 1869 Cincinnati Red Stockings were the pride of all of baseball, so Chicago came up with a rival team called the White Stockings to defeat them. "Windy City" often appeared in the Cincinnati sporting news of the 1870s and 1880s. For the Cincinnati papers, "Windy City" had meant a Chicago that was full of bluster.

In 1890, Chicago won the bid to host the World's Fair, also known as the World's Columbian Exposition. Many prominent New Yorkers were extremely irritated that a "frontier town" could beat them. Once again the notion that Chicago was full of hot air.

We are going to focus on the weather theory.  With Chicago being located on Lake Michigan, the city has a tendency to cool breezes blowing off Lake Michigan.  And with its unique city layout and the wind tunnels that form from the tall buildings make some areas a gold mine of untapped free wind power.

To harness that power Wind turbines can be employed.  These wind turbines can typically connect to your home via a 220 volt line run under ground from the turbine to a safety disconnect switch then into the main breaker.  There are typically no changes required in the home.  By using some of these wind turbines your power will first be drawn from your turbine and then the power grid.  If you make more than you use the power can be credit back to the utility company.  There are great software packages out there that help monitor your production.

The downfall of these turbine systems is the price.  They can range from $8,000 all the way up to $20,000 installed.  However there are federal tax incentives and sometimes local utility companies will give credits for it use. The duration of time that it takes to offset the initial cost depends greatly on your location.

 

It is not for everybody but it is a good place to start harnessing the power of the wind.