backtop


Print 98 comment(s) - last by Grabo.. on Aug 8 at 4:54 AM


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."



Comments     Threshold


This article is over a month old, voting and posting comments is disabled

RE: daf
By theArchMichael on 8/3/2010 1:45:57 PM , Rating: 2
Although I agree with you (and I think most reasonable people would), extreme rhetoric, unfortunately, seems to be the typical discourse of American political theatre nowadays. Hyperbole and half-truths that support an extreme position get people's attention and often result in a much more moderate compromise.

I think environmental "due diligence" is a good thing and there will probably be money set aside for and special rules put in place to marginally offset the project's ecological impact. I think even people who aren't really into environmental issues agree it's fair. But its the extreme crazies that enable that with their rabble rousing, it's just annoying and reprehensible that the american public has to endure all the garbage and misinformation that leads up to a reasonable resolution.

It appears to be the status quo with X political or social group (republican, democrat, independent, T-people, environmentalist, free market jerks, communists).


RE: daf
By knutjb on 8/3/2010 3:06:56 PM , Rating: 2
quote:
It appears to be the status quo with X political or social group (republican, democrat, independent, T-people, environmentalist, free market jerks, communists).
Why do you say "free market jerks" yet you don't apply the same derogatory slander towards any of the others?


RE: daf
By theArchMichael on 8/3/2010 3:58:20 PM , Rating: 2
My personal bias i guess, I have a strong dislike for suits. I'm not always a nice man... but you'll learn that about me... jk jk lol
Seriously though, that was kind of unfair since most of the other groups I don't particularly agree with either.

REVISED:
It appears to be the status quo with X political or social group ( elephant asses, donkey f*krs, indie pin heads, T-baggers, tree-huggers, free market jerks, communists ).

communists -> they kind of made a bad name for themselves already...


RE: daf
By theArchMichael on 8/3/2010 3:58:25 PM , Rating: 2
My personal bias i guess, I have a strong dislike for suits. I'm not always a nice man... but you'll learn that about me... jk jk lol
Seriously though, that was kind of unfair since most of the other groups I don't particularly agree with either.

REVISED:
It appears to be the status quo with X political or social group ( elephant asses, donkey f*krs, indie pin heads, T-baggers, tree-huggers, free market jerks, communists ).

communists -> they kind of made a bad name for themselves already...


"I'm an Internet expert too. It's all right to wire the industrial zone only, but there are many problems if other regions of the North are wired." -- North Korean Supreme Commander Kim Jong-il














botimage
Copyright 2014 DailyTech LLC. - RSS Feed | Advertise | About Us | Ethics | FAQ | Terms, Conditions & Privacy Information | Kristopher Kubicki