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Wind farm to churn out renewable energy  

The Los Angeles Department of Water and Power's board passed a contract to acquire a $239-million wind farm in Kern County which is being developed by a private contractor later this year.

Known as the Pine Tree project, the construction of the wind farm will provide 80 new wind turbines that will produce 120 megawatts of power – enough power for up to 120,000 homes.

The project would increase the amount of renewable energy that the DWP produces from 2 percent to 3.7 percent of the total energy that is produced, said Walter Zeisel, a spokesman for the DWP.

But the department has even bigger plans in mind for the future.

UCLA currently produces about 80 percent of its own power, and purchases the rest of the electricity it needs from the DWP. A rise in the DWP’s clean energy would mean a concurrent rise in UCLA’s clean energy.

"The goal is to get to 20 percent by 2017," Zeisel said, which would amount to about a 16 percent increase in clean energy use.

While the DWP aims to attain the 20 percent level within 12 years, Zeisel said Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa wants to reach that level within five years.

Zeisel said he did not know whether they could reach the 20 percent renewable energy goal by 2010, but he said there would be a definite rise in the amount of clean energy in the upcoming years.

The energy that UCLA generates itself comes from its Energy Systems Facility located behind the university police department building on Westwood Boulevard.

UCLA’s Energy Systems Facility runs as a co-generation system that takes in landfill gas and natural gas and utilizes both sources of power to produce electricity, steam and chilled water.

"We’re pretty green right now. It’s not as green as windmills, but it’s better than other sources of energy," said Dave Johnson, director of energy services and utilities at UCLA’s Facilities Management. He added that the Energy Systems Facility produces less pollution that most other types of power plants.

Most coal and oil generators produce electricity at about 40 percent efficiency, while UCLA’s co-generation system that runs on landfill gas and natural gas has 80 percent efficiency, Johnson said. Efficiency is calculated through the amount of electricity produced in relation to the amount of materials used.

The UCLA generator plant runs on methane derived from the decay of garbage and natural gas, and tight restrictions govern how the plant is run and how its waste is emitted.

"We have one of the most sophisticated active energy control programs," Johnson said.

While a percentage of all the electricity the DWP provides comes from renewable resources, its customers are able to purchase an additional amount of renewable energy as compared to nonrenewable power.

"UCLA is a clean power customer of ours and part of our ‘Green Power for Green L.A.’ program," said William Glauz, manager of renewable and emerging technologies at the DWP.

"Green Power for Green L.A." allows customers to pay a premium of 3 cents per kilowatt hour in order to use more renewable energy, and the 30,000 customers enrolled in the program greatly benefit the cleaner energy effort, Glauz said.

"It’s a very good thing they’re doing," Johnson said.

Facilities Management is running an active energy control program that aims to cut down on the use of energy on campus, and buildings are being retrofitted with new lights that conserve more energy than previous ones.

Johnson said by replacing thousands of T-12 fluorescent lights with the more efficient T-8 fluorescent lights UCLA has helped cut down on energy costs.

"They can build as many renewable energy sources as they want, but we can help keep the atmosphere clean ourselves by conserving energy," said Naveen Khan, a third-year anthropology student.

She said by turning off computers, lights, and other appliances when not using them, students can help cut down on the fossil fuels burned to provide the electricity used.

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