Work has begun on what will be the largest wind turbine in the Salinas Valley, Soledad city officials announced Tuesday.
The turbine is expected to produce approximately 3.5 million kilowatt hours of energy to offset usage at the nearby water reclamation facility, and Soledad officials say energy customers will save money because of it.
“When wind is sufficient, the electricity generated will significantly exceed the facility’s needs, allowing the city to net-meter the surplus back to the grid,” city officials said in a statement. “The project is projected to generate over $2 million in savings over 25 years, which will protect ratepayers against future rate increases.”
The project is scheduled to be finished this summer.
“Our highest priority is always to protect our taxpayers, who work hard for every dollar they earn,” said Soledad City Manager Adela Gonzalez. “This project allows us to deliver them real savings with no upfront capital costs. It is a huge win for our city and our local community.”
Soledad officials also hope the wind generator will serve as “another strong visual across the Salinas Valley landscape demonstrating the City of Soledad’s continued push towards becoming the economic and tourism hub of south Monterey County.”
Gonzalez said using the turbine will also reduce greenhouse gas emissions by nearly 2,500 metric tons, “equivalent to taking over 500 vehicles off the road.”
A Menlo Park company called Foundation Windpower LLC was hired by the city to develop, finance and construct the turbine. Other company projects include installing wind turbines for Safeway in Tracy and a number of California projects for the Mexican cement and concrete company Cemex.
The southern Salinas Valley, and especially Soledad, is known for constant afternoon winds.
“We have to protect and utilize all available resources, and wind is a resource we have a lot of,” said Mayor Fred Ledesma.
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