The First Megawatt and Failing Smart
IN THE WEE HOURS of March 26, 1945, the wind was blowing at a sleepy five miles per hour, far too slow for the turbine to make electricity. Harold Perry, a construction foreman, had been working nonstop for the twenty-three grueling days since the wind power plant had gone back online after some repairs. That night, an elevator carried Perry one hundred feet up through the oil derrick-like tower to the small, armored building that housed the controls for the world’s largest wind machine.
In the years before World War II, this machine, the Smith-Putnam wind turbine, stood as a testament to the power of human—and American—ingenuity. A decade before, the Soviet Union had built the world’s largest ...