The recently opened Tule Wind Project, located in part of the rugged terrain in San Diego’s East County, has been knocked offline for the past two weeks due to a faulty underground power cable.
A spokesman for the wind farm’s operator, Avangrid Renewables, said the company is still trying to figure out what went wrong and when the facility will get back up and running. The outage has shut down all 57 of the giant turbines that cover an expanse of 5 miles along Interstate 8 in the McCain Valley.
“We’re continuing to work to assess all the necessary remediation actions and then we’ll implement a complete fix as quickly as possible,” said Art Sasse, director of communications and brand for Avangrid, which is based in Oregon. “All turbines are not compromised in any manner as a result of the outage.”
The curtailment began on April 11 and according to the California Independent System Operator, which oversees the operation of about 80 percent of the state’s electric power system and electricity market, the outage has been listed as “forced,” which means it was unplanned.
The Tule Wind Project opened a little more than three months ago after 13 years of bureaucratic and legal battles. The turbines reach 262 feet in height and the blades attached to each rotor stretch to a diameter of 351 feet.
The electricity generated by the 131.1-megawatt wind farm is fed into a substation operated by San Diego Gas & Electric and is part of a 15-year power purchase agreement the operators signed with Southern California Edison.
Avangrid officials have predicted Tule will generate enough electricity to service about 40,000 homes and deliver more than $39 million in state and local tax benefits over 25 years. Eight full-time employees work at the site.
The Tule Wind Project takes up about 12,000 acres of backcountry territory that includes bighorn sheep and golden eagles. Some environmental groups have opposed the wind farm, saying it poses a danger to the area’s habitat, eagles in particular. Avangrid officials have long maintained the company has been careful to protect wildlife and birds.
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