An historic wind Energy Power Purchase Agreement was signed on Dec. 21, 2006, by Alta Wind Power Development and Southern California Edison that will generate 1,500 megawatts of energy.
“We think it is the largest ever wind power contract and the good news for wind developers in Tehachapi is we’re seeking more,” said SCE Director of Renewable and Alternative Power Stuart Hemphill.
Hemphill said SCE is trying to tap into the potential 4,500 megawatts of wind in the Tehachapi area.
“With the Alta Wind contract we executed in December we’ve tapped into one-third of that potential,” Hemphill said.
Alta Wind Power Development is a partnership between Allco, the financial arm of Australian-based Allco Infrastructure and Oak Creek Energy, a Tehachapi-based wind energy generation company.
The renewable energy generated by these new projects in the Tehachapi Wind Resource Area of Southern California will make a significant contribution to the state’s goal of having 20 percent of its energy needs met by renewable sources by 2010.
Renewable energy resources include wind, solar, biomass, geothermal and hydro-electrical facilities.
SCE said last year it served approximately 17 percent of its customers’ needs with renewable energy sources.
Oak Creek Executive Vice President Ed Duggins said the agreement is for 20 years.
“We are pleased our long-term commitment to the Tehachapi area is helping to produce such a groundbreaking project,” said Hal Romanowitz, president of Oak Creek Energy Systems. “This project combines the strengths of industry leaders in a way that will have great value for the people of California.”
In a December Oak Creek press release, the company said the Alta Wind Energy Center will be the world’s largest wind power project when fully developed and claimed the project will help preserve thousand of acres of Kern County open lands, strengthening the eastern Kern County economy.
The release also said the Alta Wind Center will supply the annual electrical energy needs of 375,000 to 500,000 American households and will create more than 500 construction jobs and 300 long-term wind related jobs.
“We will be going out to bid for our construction contractors very shortly, and once we fill those construction contracts the contractors may hire people locally, but I don’t know that for a fact,” said Chuck Adamson, SCE’s director of the transmission project. “It’s very difficult [to say] what impact there might be to employment from the transmission lines.”
He said those jobs would be temporary, just through the construction period.
SCE has recently signed renewable energy projects throughout the state including renewables such as biomass and geothermal fuels.
“I applaud Southern California Edison for this historic wind energy contract,” said Michael R. Peevey, President of the California Public Utilities Commission (CPUC).
The agreement, although substantial, is still awaiting CPUC approval. The transmission network is divided into 11 different segments.
“Segments one through three have gone through the entire California Public Utilities Commission,” said Adamson. “They issued proposed decisions about a month ago and will be voting on segment one on March 1 as part of their agenda.”
Adamson said segments two and three are expected to reach a vote by the CPUC on March 15.
Adamson said segments one through three will be on-line in 2009 and will be able to help meet the state’s projected 20 percent renewable energy goal. They will be able to provide 750 megawatts at a cost of $250 million for that portion of the project.
SCE will present segments four through 11 in the summer of 2007 to the CPUC and Adamson said he projects the review and approval process to take about 18 months. Those segments are projected to be implemented between 2011 and 2013 with an estimated cost of $1.8 billion.
The project was approved by the California System Operator Southern Regional Transmission plan in January.
Adamson said that agency is charged with planning and the operation of the electric grid and the transmission grid in California.
He said investor-owned utilities build their facilities under that agency’s approval.
Adamson reiterated, “This Tehachapi Renewable Wind Transmission Project is part of Edison’s multi-billion dollar infrastructure improvement program over the next five years. We’re going to be spending multi-billion dollars to not only enhance our existing transmission facilities but build new ones,” he said, “and Tehachapi is a key example of that.”
By Matthew Chew
26 February 2007
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