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
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."
quote: Yeah, but I think it's a generational thing.
quote: Hippies = Hypocrites
quote: So, outside the environmental impact, and not stating who is "good" or "bad" or where people "should" live. I just think these neighborhoods should pay a price fitting their social and economic burden for the luxury they 'chose'.
quote: No I don't believe I have a real ethical right to rail against someone who leads a more excessive lifestyle than myself.
quote: BUT, I think that lifestyle should come at a cost.
quote: Instead of those monies going into making a cool subway or tram system or something really beneficial to the city with it's millions of residents . It is typically used just to maintain the plethora of roadway that is sprawled across the surrounding countryside that services less residents.