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One California power company is betting big on wind

California is already leading the nation in solar efforts.  It’s also seeking to revamp its power grid and go green with a number of other power sources including geothermal and clean fission.

Southern California Edison (SCE) is one of California's largest power utilities.  It has already committed to going green in a big way, with 7.71B kWh of geothermal, 2.58B kWh of wind power, 667M kWh of solar, 580M kWh of biogas, 556M kWh of small hydro, and 336M kWh of biomass generated power generated for customers in 2007.  This placed SCE as the nation's largest supplier of alternative energy, with over 16 percent of its power from renewable sources.

Now SCE is tackling wind power on a large scale, signing contracts for 909 MW of new capacity.  The new contract is with DCE, an affiliate of Caithness Energy and will be one of the world's largest fully permitted wind farms.  With it, California moves closer to surpassing Texas as wind power capital of the U.S. 

The new installation will actually be installed outside California in Gilliam and Morrow Counties in North-Central Oregon between 2011 and 2012.  The installation will consist of 303 3-MW turbines in a 30 mile radius. Shepherd’s Flat will generate around 2B kWh of wind power for SCE, about 10 percent of its total alternative energy portfolio.  The wind-rich region is one of the nation's "bread baskets" of wind power.

Stuart Hemphill, SCE vice president, Renewable and Alternative Power, lauded the latest contract, stating, "This contract is a crown jewel in our renewable energy portfolio.  The project is attractive to SCE because of its size, near-term delivery and its competitive price."

One key to the project's potential is that no new power transmission lines need to be built.  This will allow it to come online much more quickly and start making returns on the investment sooner.  Wind power is also cheaper per kWh than solar or many other alternative energy sources.

Les Gelber, president and chief operating officer of Caithness Energy sums up the new effort, stating, "Caithness has been successfully partnering with Southern California Edison since the 1980s to bring renewable energy to the region.  The Shepherd’s Flat project is particularly exciting and will bring a significant new renewable energy supply to the western United States."

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i think...
By inperfectdarkness on 10/28/2008 2:19:30 PM , Rating: 2
3Mw turbines down interstate highway medians would provide a LOT of electricity....

RE: i think...
By AssBall on 10/28/08, Rating: 0
RE: i think...
By therealnickdanger on 10/28/2008 2:57:24 PM , Rating: 5
Wasn't California looking at needing a federal "buyout" or something recently? Seems to me that a a state (or any corporation) should not be spending frivolous amounts of money on things like this.

RE: i think...
By FreeTard on 10/28/08, Rating: 0
RE: i think...
By BBeltrami on 10/29/2008 10:50:23 AM , Rating: 4
You say frivolous and I hope a lot of people agree. Because listening to our California Legislators we are in a dire circumstance and it is likely already too late to do anything about it. Panic and fear are absolutely rampant.

New Scientist magazine ran with a cover story Oct. 11 that reads, "The Folly of Growth: How to stop the economy killing the planet" where they conclude that “the science tells us that if we are serious about saving the Earth,” economic growth must be limited. University of Surrey (UK) sustainable development professor Tim Jackson doubts renewable energy technologies will work without reduced consumption. Rather than buying an energy efficient TV, he says, you ought to consider not buying a TV at all.

Welcome to the future! Welcome to the New Freedom, Citizen!

RE: i think...
By rcc on 10/29/2008 1:57:43 PM , Rating: 2
It is inevitable. For each step that society takes along the path the environmentalists say is necessary, they have to unmask another part of their actual unstated goals.

If you released a matter converter tomorrow that would provide plentiful power by converting trash in landfills to energy, with the only other output being pure, clean water, it would still be a blight on the planet according to them.

So, if you can't join em, beat 'em.

RE: i think...
By MrBungle123 on 10/28/2008 4:19:40 PM , Rating: 2
I am going to laugh hysterically when they get a calm day and California is having rolling black outs because they put so much faith in a power system that is completely dependent on weather conditions.

RE: i think...
By Spuke on 10/28/2008 4:59:30 PM , Rating: 2
CA isn't a very windy place except for the deserts and that's where the current windmills are. Although, this time of year the deserts aren't very windy and the local wind farms windmills are not turning. Even my neighbors MUCH smaller windmill hasn't turned.

RE: i think...
By Doormat on 10/28/2008 5:37:23 PM , Rating: 2
They aren't building it in California! Learn to read!

Oregon is quite windy, especially along the coast. So is Wyoming, Idaho and Montana. There are several 500kV (read: really f*ing big) power lines that are going through regulatory approval now to go from places like Wyoming down to the southwest - Phoenix and Las Vegas.

RE: i think...
By 67STANG on 10/28/2008 5:42:51 PM , Rating: 2
Article is a little bit misleading. The largest windfarm in the world is under development in South Dakota .

RE: i think...
By Spuke on 10/28/2008 6:11:48 PM , Rating: 2
They aren't building it in California! Learn to read!
NO SH!T!!! I'm not talking about the article. I'm talking about CA's wind in general!!!

RE: i think...
By kenji4life on 10/28/2008 9:11:23 PM , Rating: 2
Yeah, get mad! Not like anyone would assume that you were talking about the article that you replied to..

Oregon is very windy, not just near the coast, though. The Columbia river gorge is famous for its constant and powerful wind flow, look it up.

RE: i think...
By Durrr on 10/28/2008 10:25:56 PM , Rating: 5

RE: i think...
By B3an on 10/29/2008 5:34:34 AM , Rating: 2



RE: i think...
By Cypherdude1 on 10/29/2008 8:19:26 AM , Rating: 2
No, that's not true at all. California is a large state with varied weather conditions. Whenever I drive along highway 58, I see hundreds of windmills placed along the hills and all of them are turning, except for a few which are being repaired.
CA isn't a very windy place except for the deserts and that's where the current windmills are.

RE: i think...
By Spuke on 10/29/2008 3:19:16 PM , Rating: 2
Whenever I drive along highway 58
Most of 58 is in the desert. Hence it's windy.

RE: i think...
By marvdmartian on 10/29/2008 10:23:35 AM , Rating: 2
Never been through the Altamont Pass, I see......

RE: i think...
By Spuke on 10/29/2008 3:21:24 PM , Rating: 3
I did NOT say they never turn or turn very little. I specifically stated that at this time of year the DESERTS aren't very windy. I live in the desert and it's not very windy this time of year.

RE: i think...
By Spuke on 10/28/2008 2:38:45 PM , Rating: 2
This placed SCE as the nation's largest supplier of alternative energy, with over 16 percent of its power from renewable sources.
And we STILL have rolling blackouts in the summer.

RE: i think...
By wookie1 on 10/28/2008 3:40:07 PM , Rating: 2
Yeah, that's not gonna change. The output of the wind farm is not the same as the "capacity". The capacity is the maximum that the wind turbines can generate, under the best conditions. The average output of the wind turbines is usually 20-30%, so really the average output of this installation is approximately 0.25 * 909MW = 227MW. They still need to install backup capacity also for when the wind isn't blowing (coal, gas, or nuclear plant for example) that is idling all the time ready to kick in.

Actually, what Cali does is sue other states to provide them additional power because they don't want to build new "dirty" plants in the state. They want to connect additional power lines into other states grids so that the "dirty" power doesn't have to be in their backyard.

RE: i think...
By MrBungle123 on 10/28/2008 4:23:58 PM , Rating: 2
Actually, what Cali does is sue other states to provide them additional power because they don't want to build new "dirty" plants in the state.

Thats because thats what liberals do... if you have a problem don't find a workable solution just sue somebody so they have to fix it and if their fix doesn't have absolutely zero effect on the environment sue them again for not buying enough carbon credits.

RE: i think...
By MrBungle123 on 10/28/2008 4:26:45 PM , Rating: 2
Oh wait I forgot... and if they get rich off your stupidity tax them half to death so you can subsidize your disconnection with reality.

RE: i think...
By rudolphna on 10/28/2008 10:37:53 PM , Rating: 2
That is because the US has such an old and aging power infrastructure. It really is time to start replacing older power lines so rolling black/brown outs are not required to keep the power grid from collapsing.

RE: i think...
By Ringold on 10/29/2008 12:12:15 AM , Rating: 2
If you're trying to paint CA's problems as a widespread US problem.. sorry, but no. No other state I'm aware of has California's rolling blackouts. The only time I've been without power here in Florida my entire life has been when a hurricane came and sent our power grid flying through the air -- and even then it's fully restored in quick order, considering the massive destruction.

California's problems are isolated to California, lets not paint a wide brush where other, less radical states are lumped in when they have no such similar problems.

RE: i think...
By FITCamaro on 10/29/2008 7:27:46 AM , Rating: 3
There are times in certain areas of Florida where they have to cut power to some things. I know when I was in school at FIT, we had our power shut off several times. I forget the reasons why. Sometimes it was just maintenance. Other times it was just high demand on the grid. FPL (Florida Flicker & Flash) is a terrible power provider.

RE: i think...
By Ringold on 10/29/2008 5:48:28 PM , Rating: 2
I had on a house a few years ago that had a (voluntary) meter that would cut off the pool pump, and then cut back heating or AC if the grid was heavily loaded.. in return, I got a small monthly rebate. It flipped off the pool a few times in the summer, but never killed the AC or heat.

But yeah, I've heard of people complaining about FPL service before. Always been Progress Energy here, though. Either way, I can't recall ever hearing about official, scheduled rolling blackouts across Florida the likes of which are fairly common now in California. We don't blow a gasket when a power company asks to build a new plant, and we're encouraging expansion of the local nuke plants.

RE: i think...
By Cypherdude1 on 10/29/2008 8:24:49 AM , Rating: 2
I live in So. California and I have never had a blackout due to lack of power. There was one time when we had our yearly Santa Ana winds, which can be up to 70 MPH, and blew down 3 blocks of power poles and kept us out of power for 10 days though. However, that was an exception which occurred over 4 years ago.

RE: i think...
By Spuke on 10/29/2008 3:38:04 PM , Rating: 2
Dude, there were rolling blackouts in the LA area just this past summer. You're just lucky there were none in your area.

RE: i think...
By Ringold on 10/29/2008 5:43:53 PM , Rating: 2
Yeah, what Spuke said. Do you watch even your local news at all? I'm several time zones away and I apparently am more aware of your states issues than you are.

RE: i think...
By Cypherdude1 on 10/30/2008 1:03:30 AM , Rating: 2
Los Angeles county is a whole other county, not my county. They have their own problems such as crime, blackouts, etc... I live south of them. Again, my county has never had a rolling blackout and there was only one time my particular street was out for 10 days for the reason I gave above. That's it.
Yeah, what Spuke said. Do you watch even your local news at all? I'm several time zones away and I apparently am more aware of your states issues than you are.

RE: i think...
By Spuke on 10/29/2008 3:39:57 PM , Rating: 2
That is because the US has such an old and aging power infrastructure.
CA's power problem is our own problem and not related at all to any other part of the country.

RE: i think...
By Smartless on 10/28/2008 2:47:01 PM , Rating: 4
Sheesh right now put a wind farm in front of Washington DC and every state capitol. It's election season, gotta make use of all the wasted money and hot air.

RE: i think...
By kontorotsui on 10/28/08, Rating: 0
RE: i think...
By Spuke on 10/28/2008 2:48:04 PM , Rating: 2
3Mw turbines down interstate highway medians would provide a LOT of electricity....
Only the CA deserts are windy enough for this to make sense.

RE: i think...
By kattanna on 10/28/2008 2:50:39 PM , Rating: 2
yeah.. i know there is still plenty of empty land in the palm springs area there where all the windmills already are.

Bad Journalism
By lamestlamer on 10/28/2008 4:01:49 PM , Rating: 2
KWh is a unit of energy, not power. Also, what on earth is does 200M KWh mean? A single house uses 10 million KWh a year, so 200 million KWh is a pittance. 1 GW of power is a good sized plant: a small nuclear plant, a giant coal plant, a medium hydro dam, but massive solar or wind farms if we are talking average power. It takes 10 square kilometers of solar to generate 1 GW at peak. You would need 40 square kilometers in a sunny area to hope of getting 1 GW average. 40 square kilometers is roughly a square 4 miles on a side.

Wind isn't as bad if you can put the turbine at a high elevation. Costly maintenance and high costs prevent it from being competitive to unsubsidized methods in most environments.

RE: Bad Journalism
By lamestlamer on 10/28/2008 4:17:10 PM , Rating: 2
Oops, got my math wrong, a house uses roughly 10000 KWh in a year. Those renewable figures don't have a timespan of operation, so they could power a town for years or a city for a year. Reporting units of energy inflates numbers without giving a true sense of scale. The US uses about a TW on average (.5 TW of electricity, 3 TW NET), giving an annual energy usage of roughly 10 PWh or 10^13 KWh.

RE: Bad Journalism
By Oregonian2 on 10/28/2008 4:57:02 PM , Rating: 2
That's one advantage of hydro/wind power sources, the fuel is free. That's a runtime advantage over fuel based generation. Question becomes how long one can expect the equipment to last and how much maintenance cost will there be. Being able to amortize costs over a long period of time makes the unit cost cheaper and cheaper (as would getting the initial capital costs down, of course).

RE: Bad Journalism
By Spuke on 10/28/2008 5:02:42 PM , Rating: 1
Actually it's 12 kWh a year. Just under 1kWh a month.

RE: Bad Journalism
By MadMaster on 10/28/2008 5:23:41 PM , Rating: 2
I fart and use a 1kWh...


My 2000sq ft house uses about 200-300 kWh a month (lights, TV, computers, etc).

An average desktop uses 77kWh a month, with a 100watt draw for the entire month.

RE: Bad Journalism
By Spuke on 10/28/2008 6:24:41 PM , Rating: 2
My 2000sq ft house uses about 200-300 kWh a month (lights, TV, computers, etc).
Where do you live because that's friggin low?! We use about 700 during the late spring/summer and 500-600 the rest of the year.

RE: Bad Journalism
By Spuke on 10/28/2008 6:25:13 PM , Rating: 2
Oh forgot. 2054 sq ft house.

RE: Bad Journalism
By gerf on 10/28/2008 7:42:23 PM , Rating: 2
I use maybe 350 in the winter (natural gas heat), 1300 in the summer with AC kicking in, with a 2500 sq ft house.

RE: Bad Journalism
By Spuke on 10/29/2008 3:44:58 PM , Rating: 2
I use maybe 350 in the winter (natural gas heat), 1300 in the summer with AC kicking in, with a 2500 sq ft house.
That winter figure is really good. I'm usually in the mid 500's in Dec and Jan. I have propane heat unfortunately (like buying gas) so even the winter is not cheap. The highest I've even been in the summer was a bit over a 1000.

RE: Bad Journalism
By Doormat on 10/28/2008 5:44:21 PM , Rating: 2
The article gives anyone all the information they need.

909MW wind -> 30% CF = 2.39M MWh/yr

2,390M kWh/10,000 kWh = 239,000 average homes

Granted because of the intermittent pattern, its really replacing natural gas used as baseload (which is what Boone Pickens is advocating).

RE: Bad Journalism
By Keeir on 10/28/2008 4:55:08 PM , Rating: 2
I find your comment odd.

In regards to renewable energy sources, I find units of energy per year, etc, to be significantly better than power. This is because renewables (popular Wind and Solar) have significantly greater osciallation of power than many older forms. IE, Coal, Nuclear, and Hydro can essentially run at 80%+ capacity all the time. Solar and Wind will not. So providing numbers like 909 MW of power means nothing for these installations...

By FITCamaro on 10/28/2008 6:26:10 PM , Rating: 2
We can't use less than 1 mile for an oil refinery but we can use 30 miles for a wind farm?

RE: So...
By EglsFly on 10/28/2008 8:06:36 PM , Rating: 3
The GREEN people seem ok with using massive amounts of land for these wind and solar plants to generate the amount of electricity a nuke or combined cycle plant would generate with 1/3rd the amount of real estate. Not to mention that also in addition to requiring much more land, the energy costs for these GREEN plants is ten times as expensive!
With current costs ranging from 15 to 20 cents per kWh, and wholesale coal power costs between 1.5 and 2.5 cents per kWh (and nuclear in a similar range -- 1.7 cents per kWh by estimates from the Nuclear Energy Institute), solar still has a ways to go and likely a few decades before being ready for full deployment.

No wonder they call it GREEN energy.... because it costs you more "greenbacks" to buy it!

RE: So...
By rhangman on 10/28/2008 8:29:14 PM , Rating: 2
Well other countries have been building them offshore. No wasted land that way. Also I don't get why they don't just use excess power to generate hydrogen to help level out the power produced (generate electricity from hydrogen fuel cells during less windy periods). Could maybe also integrate wave power into the offshore installation.

RE: So...
By Darkskypoet on 10/29/2008 12:32:46 AM , Rating: 2
Yeah, that is one of the issues right now, is that with any installation of variable production systems (wind, solar, etc) you've got to have a decent way of storing said energy for use during peak periods.

One of the main reasons to upgrade existing power infrastructure, or at least to set new standards for new builds, is to maximize the use of all sorts of alternative and traditional power sources.

Natural gas plants, and other very controllable forms of power generation are great because you can step up and down power production on your terms, Hydro as well to an extent is controllable, as you can oft times control what sort of water flow you allow through the turbines, and either allow spill over or allow your reservoirs to fill for peak times, or seasonal dry conditions.

Ideally, and of course not currently available, would be a means of storing the excess energy produced with non controllable variable systems with very little loss, over both the short and long term. Also, ideally in terms of defense, and independent survivability would be decentralizing power production and temporary storage for individual communities / neighborhoods.

Unfortunately, most means of storing such power involve a horrendous amount of loss so as to make them nearly useless in larger scale projects, for any decently long time frame. However, this is a technological limitation that we will eventually overcome.

Main point being that whatever storage system used would have to address concerns of loss, or it may not even be feasible to utilize. I once read somewhere, that utilizing wind turbines to do mechanical work, rather then converting output to electrical power to run machinery to do mechanical work, is much more efficient. Perhaps in a case like this, one could utilize the output of wind turbines to raise water, or some other fluid within a system to make use of its energy to drive turbines on demand. Potential energy of a fluid in a system such as this should not decrease over time, and could be passed through a turbine system when required to generate power much the same as any Hydro dam does today. Ideally, this sort of mechanical storage system, would operate in tandem with a pre-existing hydroelectric facility. However the coincidence of both wind suitability, and hydroelectric production facilities limits this, as would the impact of withholding the water from those areas down stream.

The main point however, is that for the forseeable future (20+ years) we will not move beyond requiring some sort of traditional base power production / conversion to power our civilizations. For that, hydro and nuclear are the way to go, and for greater efficiencies, our aging grid should be rebuilt, but more importantly rethought. There are a number of improvements that could be made to the archaic way we move power, and the sheer amount of loss we incur by doing it so stupidly.

RE: So...
By FITCamaro on 10/29/2008 7:33:16 AM , Rating: 2
7% is hardly a huge amount of loss.

And why should we redesign the energy grid to better suite sources of power that are vastly more expensive than nuclear, hydro, or geothermal when they're not even guaranteed to work all the time? Thus requiring you to have massive amounts of batteries or still build more traditional types of plants.

RE: So...
By randomly on 10/29/2008 10:00:01 AM , Rating: 2
Storing energy by generating hydrogen and then later using it in fuel cells has poor cycle efficiency. You lose 3/4 of your energy in the process. You lose another 12-15% of your energy compressing the gas to store it.

Not only is it inefficient, but the fuel cells are extremely expensive and prone to degradation, catalyst poisoning and general wear and tear.

Hydrogen gets a lot of press and marketing as a wonder fuel, but the reality is unfortunately much less than the hype.

Better to store the energy with compressed air or hydro pumping if you must. Or better yet use the wind/solar energy when it's available, and use fuel based power generation when it's not, since the fuel based energy is already 'stored'.

By RU482 on 10/28/2008 6:50:35 PM , Rating: 3
so close to 1.21GW, sad

RE: 909MW
By kensiko on 10/28/2008 9:40:53 PM , Rating: 2

RE: 909MW
By FITCamaro on 10/29/2008 7:33:40 AM , Rating: 3
It was a jigawatt.

By kensiko on 10/28/2008 9:42:17 PM , Rating: 2
Didn't know geothermal was producing so much electricity. Is it working well? No problem using this? This is a great green energy.

RE: Geothermal
By Durrr on 10/28/2008 10:29:08 PM , Rating: 2
There's been quite a few articles about it on here. They've developed new metallurgy to combat the corrosive effects of the steam produced. There's a new modular setup that was written about/described on here a few months ago.

Unit of KWatt * Hour is misleading and arcane
By phxfreddy on 10/29/2008 12:50:13 AM , Rating: 2
How about just telling me the POWER ...that is to say WATTS....then I can easily and quickly compare with say a nuclear plant output.

Its not easy to compare when you introduce the time dimension in such a unitless way.....

By Doormat on 10/29/2008 11:31:44 AM , Rating: 2
As its been stated before, MW of a wind farm is NOT equivalent to MW of a nuclear plant - nuclear has a very high capacity factor 90%+, wind has one between 20 and 30% depending on location.

By ElFenix on 10/28/2008 5:54:53 PM , Rating: 2
Texas has 2.5 times that amount currently under construction, and once Gulf projects kick off, we'll soon move past the largest nation-states in terms of generation.

Texas - Home of Big Wind.

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