California no longer #1 in wind power
- From: "California Poppy" <GoldenStatePoppy@xxxxxxx>
- Date: 5 Sep 2006 12:45:15 -0700
Posted on Tue, Sep. 05, 2006
State no longer No. 1 in wind power
Texas surpasses California by 47 megawatts, director says Lone Star
State has more land, wind resources
By Janis Mara
California may be a leader in curbing greenhouse gases and creating
solar power, but Texas has breezed past the Golden State as the
nation's top producer of wind power.
The Lone Star State, better known for its oil derricks and natural gas,
now has a capacity of 2,370 wind-generated megawatts, enough to power
600,000 average-sized homes a year, according to a report released by
the American Wind Energy Association.
California, the nation's wind energy leader since 1981, has 2,323
wind-generated megawatts, 47 megawatts less than Texas.
California industry observers shrugged off the development, describing
it as a relatively small difference and citing the state's overall
record -- nearly 11 percent of its electricity was generated by
renewable forms of power in 2005 -- as evidence of its good standing in
The state's peak capacity, counting all forms of power generation, is
about 50,000 megawatts. One megawatt generally equals roughly enough
electricity for 750 average California homes, depending on demand.
"I applaud Texas. I think it's great they are taking advantage of their
wind resources," said Susanne Garfield of the California Energy
Commission. "California has been the leader and will probably move
"It's a great contest to be in, vying to surpass each others' renewable
energy and continuing to leapfrog each other," Garfield said. "It's
just 50 megawatts. That's not a big jump."
California has four main wind resource areas: Altamont Pass, caught in
a controversy over the killing of birds by wind farm turbines;
Tehachapi Pass; San Gorgonio Pass; and a new, rapidly growing wind
resources area near Rio Vista in Solano County, said Case van Dam, a
professor at UC Davis.
Garfield said the Solano County installation is an "up and coming" area
that has turbine blades the length of a football field. She said she
believes new technology and slower-turning turbines that pose less
danger to birds could help California catch up with Texas.
Wind energy plants use turbines to generate electricity. Such plants
generate no emissions, unlike fossil fuel power plants. Coal-fired
plants emit tons of pollutants and greenhouse gases such as carbon
dioxide, nitrogen oxide, sulfur dioxide and mercury.
Texas has been creeping up on California for a number of years, and
taking the top spot was "bound to happen," said van Dam, who is also
director of the California Wind Energy Collaborative.
"First of all, Texas has better wind resources," van Dam said.
"Secondly, it is easier to do business and get permits for wind
turbines in Texas, and there is plentiful land there."
California state law requires that by 2017 its investor-owned utilities
receive 20 percent of their electric energy from renewable energy
sources such as hydro, wind, solar, biomass and geothermal energy, van
In the past two weeks, California lawmakers have passed major
alternative energy legislation.
Just last week, they passed the first bill in the United States to cap
greenhouse gas emissions. Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger strongly supported
the bill and has said he plans to sign it.
On Aug. 21, Schwarzenegger signed a cornerstone piece of his Million
Solar Roofs initiative. The initiative's goal is to stimulate
construction of 1 million solar roofs, both business and residential,
in California by 2018.
The directive means such practices will continue to grow, van Dam said.
"Right now, California is lagging a little bit, but in the long run
installed capacity for wind energy will pick up," van Dam said.
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