Recently, Structural News brought you the story of the Bethlehem Steel Administration Building and its slated demolition. The building sits over a large swath of land which at one time housed a steel manufacturing plant that in the mid-1960s employed 20,000 American workers.


Left largely vacant since the plant closed in 1983, a project officially completed last month looks to have changed that. “Steel Winds,” an initiative that has transformed a 30-acre section of the steel mill’s property along the shores of Lake Erie into a 14-windmill-strong wind farm, has transformed the brownfield and crumbling landscape into an operational source of renewable energy. The project has created $200,000 in tax revenue for local governments, as well as 35 MW of power capable of providing electricity to 20,000 homes across western New York State. 

While only creating five permanent green jobs, a far cry from the thousands left out of work when the plant closed, the project is a largely symbolic victory in the reuse of contaminated industrial lands for 21st century purposes. The companies involved in the initiative, Apex Wind Energy, Inc. and First Wind, have made their investment largely in order to meet New York’s mandate that 30% of its energy come from renewable energy sources by 2015. Such a close deadline has forced companies to act fast in order to meet the requirement and with rapid progress being made, the mandate has been hailed as a success. Energy companies are currently considering introducing a solar facility to harness the area’s abundance of sunlight.


For now, white windmills turn slowly on a backdrop of silos and smokestacks, a picturesque portrait of the old being paved with the new, preparing a stronger tomorrow.