Wind Farm ‘Mega Project’ Underway in Mojave Desert
The Alta Wind Energy Center — with plans for thousands of acres of turbines to generate electricity for 600,000 Southern California homes — officially broke ground.Posted Aug 12, 2010
The Alta Wind Energy Center — with plans for thousands of acres of turbines to generate electricity for 600,000 Southern California homes — officially breaks ground Tuesday.
It’s being called the largest wind power project in the country, with plans for thousands of acres of towering turbines in the Mojave Desert foothills generating electricity for 600,000 homes in Southern California.
And now it’s finally kicking into gear.
The multibillion-dollar Alta Wind Energy Center has had a tortured history, stretching across nearly a decade of ownership changes, opposition from local residents and transmission infrastructure delays.
But on Tuesday, the project is officially breaking ground in the Tehachapi Pass, a burgeoning hot spot for wind energy about 75 miles north of Los Angeles. When completed, Alta could produce three times as much energy as the country’s largest existing wind farm, analysts said. It’s slated to be done in the next decade.
The project will probably be a wind power bellwether, affecting the way renewable energy deals are financed, the development of new electricity storage systems and how governments regulate the industry, said Billy Gamboa, a renewable energy analyst with the California Center for Sustainable Energy.
“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,” he said.
The project’s developer, New York-based Terra-Gen Power, plans to coax three gigawatts of power from the wind farm over the next eight years. It has led some industry experts to predict that California might have a shot at reclaiming the wind energy crown from competitors such as Texas and Iowa.
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