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Construction on the Alta Wind Energy Center (AWEC) began last week in California.  (Source: Terra Gen)

The project aims to provide 3 GW of power capacity, power 600,000 homes, and create thousands of green jobs.  (Source: Terra Gen)

Some environmentalists have vocally opposed the project, fearful that the turbins will kill local animals and otherwise damage the desert ecosystem.  (Source: Mojave Desert Blog)
Overcoming landowner and environmentalist protests, the 3 GW project commences

With the death of T. Boone Pickens' unprecedented wind farm project in Texas, the alternative energy industry was left with the glaring question of who would step up to the plate and take its place.  

That question appears to be answered, with the progress of the Alta Wind Energy Center.  Set to become the nation's largest wind power plant and among the largest in the world, the new installation is being constructed in Southern California.

Its tall turbines will blanket thousands of acres of Mojave Desert foothills.  They will be capable of producing 3 GW of electric power at peak -- enough to power approximately 600,000 homes.

The project is actually among the nation's oldest, dating back almost a decade.  It was long delayed due to lack of funding, protests from citizens fearful of damage to the desert ecosystem, and difficulties in implementing the high-power transmission wires needed to carry the power out of the desert.

It appears that the stars are at last aligning for the project.  After receiving $1.2B USD in new funding, the owner of the project, Terra Gen, just broke ground for the first time in the project's history.  Construction began in the Tehachapi Pass, 75 miles north of Los Angeles.  The construction will likely stretch through 2020 or later.

Billy Gamboa, a renewable energy analyst with the California Center for Sustainable Energy, says the installation will be a game changer for the industry.  He states, "It's a super-mega-project — it'll definitely set a precedent for the rest of the state and have a pretty large impact on the wind industry in general."

Ryan Wiser, a renewable energy analyst at Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory, concurs, stating, "Alta's an absolutely enormous project in probably the most promising wind resource area that remains in the state,.  It's the single biggest investment in California wind project assets in decades and is likely the largest the state is ever going to see."

The farm already has some of its necessary distribution deals in place.  Terra Gen has signed a contract with Southern California Edison, to buy 1.55 GW of power over 25 years from Alta.  That will allow it to power 275,000 homes purely on wind power.  That distribution alone more than doubles the previous record held by a 735 MW Texas farm.

The first round of construction will install 290 turbines across 9,000 acres.  That will create thousands of jobs and increase California's wind power production by 25 percent according to current estimates.  Denmark-based Vestas-American Wind Technology will manufacture the turbines for this round of construction.

In 2015, the next piece of the megafarm, an 300-turbine 830 MW monster, will come online.  That piece will use new ultra-wide turbines whose blades will be almost as wide as a football field.

Terra Gen purchased the property and the project rights for $325M USD from Australian Allco Finance Group, which went bankrupt in 2008.  After that Terra Gen had to overcome concerns from the Federal Aviation Administration that the turbines could interfere with flights from LA's Mountain Valley Airport.

While the company has finally received the permits it needs to complete the construction, it still is facing petitions from environmentalists and landowners.  One petition by the Old West Ranch Property Owners Assn. has over 1,000 signatures.  The group's president, Merle Carnes, complains, "We're not against green energy in any way, but there just comes a time when you say that this is my community and I don't want turbines encroaching in full view.  There's room somewhere else."

The 
Mojave Desert Blog, an environmental activist blog critical of the project, writes, "Energy firms and the federal government should invest in more research before we rush technology into action that kills thousands of birds and bats and replicating Rachel Carson's "Silent Spring" in our new century."



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RE: daf
By dgingeri on 8/3/2010 1:09:47 PM , Rating: 2
There are people out there who just hate humanity and want us all dead. so, they fight to oppose everything we need to survive. It's not new. I'm sure Jane Fonda is one of them.


RE: daf
By bupkus on 8/3/2010 1:30:12 PM , Rating: 1
Idiot


RE: daf
By Kurz on 8/3/2010 1:41:07 PM , Rating: 3
Nothing he said was wrong.
They want to 'Reduce' the human Population.
They want to lower birth rates.

They want us to go back to the stone age when it comes to technology.

In effect they want us to die.


RE: daf
By theArchMichael on 8/3/2010 1:53:43 PM , Rating: 1
I don't know about the rest of it but reducing the population or at least it's growth rate isn't a bad idea.

Obviously I can't really agree with the rest of their platform, but I admit I haven't heard the greenpeace schtick in a while from one of those street canvasers.


RE: daf
By Sahrin on 8/3/2010 2:32:01 PM , Rating: 3
I'll say to you what I say to everyone who thinks population control is a good idea: you first.

I want to protect the environment, I value biodiversity - but not ever at the cost of human lives, or human freedom of action. Your priorities are way out of whack if you actually believe that. And we all know the best kind of leadership is by example - so lead on my friend, I'll be *right* behind you.


RE: daf
By gunzac21 on 8/3/2010 2:54:10 PM , Rating: 3
i think the discussion was not about killing yourself but more about not having 7 kids... which quite frankly if everyone decided to do that this world would really go to hell. thats the population control they mean.


RE: daf
By lelias2k on 8/3/10, Rating: 0
RE: daf
By Reclaimer77 on 8/3/2010 5:40:50 PM , Rating: 3
quote:
Are you kidding? How are the rednecks going to live if they can't have 7 kids?


In America the "white" birthrate is the lowest among all ethnic and cultural groups. By a shocking amount actually. Which is who I assumed you were referring to when you used the term "redneck".

I guess it's easy to pick on whites though, nobody will call you a racist. African American and Latino birth rates, and illegitimate birthrates, are though the roof. It's honestly terrifying. But you wouldn't bring that up because that would be racist.


RE: daf
By Souka on 8/3/2010 7:03:21 PM , Rating: 3
Could you imagine IF American's did have 10+ kids for each couple? Talk about using up the world's energy resources!!!


RE: daf
By lelias2k on 8/3/2010 11:42:44 PM , Rating: 2
That's because they don't count kids with siblings and cousins. :p


RE: daf
By TSS on 8/3/2010 7:55:11 PM , Rating: 2
I wouldn't have a problem having only 1 or 2 kids, depending on what the best figure would be. It would solve 2 problems: overpopulation of the earth (maybe not now, but at this rate, soon enough), and population booms.

The latter considering the costs involved with taking care of the elderly. Which doesn't become a problem unless when a baby boom crosses over into that care, and there isn't a second boom to cover the costs. It's not about cost, but those people will end up suffering in that case, and all will suffer in the worst case. Which is something we will face up to very soon.

Every human has the right to live, but they should at the very least be concieved first. A stable population wouldn't be a bad thing to leave for our kids.

All of that said, we aren't the problem. The real problem is controlling India's and the whole of africa's population numbers. Some western nations will even see a population decline in the next few decades (at current rates).


RE: daf
By Spuke on 8/3/2010 9:14:17 PM , Rating: 2
quote:
Some western nations will even see a population decline in the next few decades (at current rates).
The US is pretty low as are most western countries. I believe Europe is in the negatives for birth rates. Can't get much lower than that. Third world countries have the super high birth rates but it would racist to tell them to slow it down a bit.


RE: daf
By lelias2k on 8/3/2010 11:45:44 PM , Rating: 1
It would be easier if instead of telling someone not to do something, we tried to educate them. ;)


RE: daf
By JediJeb on 8/4/2010 4:14:10 PM , Rating: 3
quote:
The latter considering the costs involved with taking care of the elderly. Which doesn't become a problem unless when a baby boom crosses over into that care, and there isn't a second boom to cover the costs. It's not about cost, but those people will end up suffering in that case, and all will suffer in the worst case. Which is something we will face up to very soon.


This wouldn't be such a problem if the government stayed out of people business and pockets and let us provide for our own future needs. Instead the government as set it up so that two generations younger pay for your retirement needs. Had all those prior generations been educated in how to properly save for retirement and allowed to keep most of the money they earned then we would not be in the dire position we are in now.

It funny how you can go around the world and look at even the most backward societies which do not have things like social security and medicare yet their elderly are decently taken care of. Seems most places except modern societies respect the elderly. And for large families, I can say from experience, with my grandfather being one of 12 and my mother being 1 of 11, if anyone in our family suffers from a calamity like losing a house to fire or such, they don't have to worry about the government bailing them out, the family takes care of them until they are back on their feet. Families and communities are what should be taking care of people, not governments.


RE: daf
By theArchMichael on 8/3/2010 3:48:08 PM , Rating: 2
Whoa! settle down...
I was more talking about reducing the birth rate than population control.

http://www.demographic-research.org/Volumes/Vol3/3...

There is data that supports the idea that more educated individuals are less likely to have children and also tend to have less children when they do.

... Actually after re-reading my previous post I guess it could sound like I was advocating chopping off people's balls... I'd be upset too :-P


RE: daf
By lelias2k on 8/3/2010 4:27:22 PM , Rating: 1
Seriously, you can't use big words like "birth rate" and expect people to understand you... ;)


RE: daf
By Hare on 8/3/2010 4:53:53 PM , Rating: 2
quote:
There is data that supports the idea that more educated individuals are less likely to have children and also tend to have less children when they do.


Correct. Imagine what that does to mankind in the long run. We are slowly evolving to be a bunch of morons as the dumb people outf*** the smart ones.

On a more serious note. Decreasing birth rate is not just family planning and forcing people to have only X number of kids. Just by having better vaccinations developing nations start growing slower? Why, because they don't have the systems and safety nets that we have so they make kids to take care of them when they get older and due to high child mortality rate they rather play it safe and get plenty of kids... As quality of life (health) gets better, family sizes decrease -> fact. Seems counter productive but it isn't. Making sure that less kids suffer from bad health and die early is a good way to improve our situation.


RE: daf
By OoklaTheMok on 8/3/10, Rating: 0
RE: daf
By theArchMichael on 8/3/2010 2:04:37 PM , Rating: 2
"stone age" might be far flung. But i read an article a looonnnngggg time ago about environmentalists working in africa that were attempting to dissuade the tribes from using genetically engineered crops and animals in lieu of their organic local alternatives.
This sounds great if your in a farm in Potomac or something or if you're talking about someone's victory garden in georgetown. But when the "frankenfood" that they are dissuading them from using is disease and pest resistant crops that can provide much more food for the generally starving local population... That's a lot to ask a reasonable person to support that.
One of the core needs of a growing and evolving society is access and surplus of food and housing. To send missionaries to those who don't have that trying to persuade them that they don't need it is wrong... to me at least.


RE: daf
By Spuke on 8/3/2010 9:48:54 PM , Rating: 3
quote:
To send missionaries to those who don't have that trying to persuade them that they don't need it is wrong... to me at least.
If I were a tribal African and I saw a westernary coming my way, they'd get a spear chucked through the eye. Seriously, leave these people alone! Their way of life works for them and they don't need some 22 year old, middle class, junior in college, greenpeace wannabe, "I'm going to save the world!", wet behind the ears, used clothes wearing, Brentwood bitch telling them how to live their lives. Go plant a tomato farm in downtown Seattle or something.

African Tribal Dude: My name Kunta!
Westernary: Your name is Toby!

These bastards supposedly don't believe in slavery but they have NO problems removing your freedom of choice. Then pretending you still have it. If you have no freedom of choice, what are you? And don't give me that "I'm not telling you what to do" or "you can still buy light bulbs, just not these". Where do you people stop? Is it when those that refuse to bow to you are put in internment camps? Oh noes!! I'm not saying that Spuke! What happened to the Jews and Japanese was horrible!

Or are you too pussy to go that far. Instead choosing to brow beat (manipulate) people into submission. Hitler didn't start with gassing people at first either. Look at the Jim Crow era here in the good ole US. How do you get people to behave like they're slaves when slavery is illegal? Wait a minute Spuke, my ancestors were slaves, I'd never advocate that. Good!!!! Then you should promote freedom of choice, stay the fuck out of tribal anywhere, and learn to live with the things you can't control.

Assholes.


RE: daf
By bupkus on 8/3/2010 2:00:22 PM , Rating: 2
quote:
They want to 'Reduce' the human Population. They want to lower birth rates.
They want to 'Reduce' the human population by lowering birth rates.

But, I like your 'hands off' approach more. Lets increase the human birth rate exacerbating the shortages of food, drinking water and futile land resulting in more starvation, disease and war, destabilized political institutions and the tearing apart of our social fabrics.

BTW, most of the world is already in a decline into the stone age by these same forces you attribute to 'them' those dastardly environmentalists, tree-huggers, greenies, etc.


RE: daf
By theArchMichael on 8/3/2010 2:17:02 PM , Rating: 2
quote:
They want to 'Reduce' the human population by lowering birth rates.


Yeah I understood it as the same. I can't get behind the "greenies" complete agenda but I agree with this.
There is lots of data suggesting that birth rate's correlate to levels of education .
http://www.eubios.info/EJ124/ej124i.htm

What I find startling is that environmental groups tend not to show leniency or flexibility in their message to accomadate this. And I haven't seen evidence that they are proactively using this data to push for more access to education in "third world" countries and here in America. Instead they attempt to dictate to people what food they can't eat and completely halt a project (which might be the lesser of 2 evils, for example, the wind farm) even though it appears to be counterproductive to the point you mentioned.
These "greenies" and other political groups play "roles" and not their part. That's why I think its hard to get behind them.


RE: daf
By bupkus on 8/3/2010 8:00:47 PM , Rating: 2
quote:
Instead they attempt to dictate to people what food they can't eat
I don't get your entire statement or where you think you read it from but if I were trying to understand your post I can only recall the belief that meat production uses considerably more resources than non-meat production. Other than that it just sounds like more BS about environmentalists. And quite honestly I don't give a ship about this preoccupation with environmentalists. How about using a little common sense about the limitations of every environmental system and its ability to rebound from overuse? Don't fixate on the damn messenger but instead think about the message.


RE: daf
By Solandri on 8/3/2010 4:42:21 PM , Rating: 2
quote:
But, I like your 'hands off' approach more. Lets increase the human birth rate exacerbating the shortages of food, drinking water and futile land resulting in more starvation, disease and war, destabilized political institutions and the tearing apart of our social fabrics.

There is no food or water shortage. There's plenty of drinking water and the world grows enough food to feed the world population many times over.

The problem is distribution. In many cases, getting the food and water to the people who need it is cost-prohibitive. One way to solve this problem is by reducing the human population. Unfortunately, many environmentalists see this as the only solution and take a "my way or the highway" approach when advocating.

An alternative solution is to improve transportation technology to where distribution costs fall enough to make it cost-effective to ship food and water to these locales. Another is to lower the cost of energy so the transportation costs drop as well, making it cost-effective to deliver these necessities. Yet another approach would be to foster economic development in these areas, increasing the productivity of these people. Then they can afford to have food and water transported to them.

There are lots of solutions to the problem. It's only when you have stopping technological progress as a side-goal that you fixate on just the "reduce human population" solution. The "overpopulation problem" is already fixing itself, as people in modern societies are naturally having fewer children (and Japan and some European countries are actually shrinking in population). It turns out that when you use technology to improve your productivity, you don't need to have a dozen kids to provide raw physical labor to help run the farm.


RE: daf
By bupkus on 8/3/2010 8:21:06 PM , Rating: 2
Have you considered another option-- people migrating to prosperous countries? Just a small oversight.


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