Thursday, March 1, 2012

Alta Wind Energy Center in Tehachapi Kern County is Moving Along

There are a number of wind farms operating or under development in Kern County near Tehachapi, Ca. The largest one under development is the Alta Wind Energy Center (AWEC) which is located in the Tehachapi-Mojave Wind Resource Area.
Terra-Gen Power is the developer AWEC, and it will be California's largest wind energy project. They have a 20 year power purchasing agreement with SoCal Edison to sell 1550 megawatts of energy produced by these towers. These towers are 400 to 500 feet, which is about the distance the Golden Gate Bridge is from the Bay. It was partially approved based on tax incentives to the community, its environment reduction of energy, and low use of water compared to some solar projects. $55 million was invested by Google, and Terr-Gen’s raised $1.2 billion from Barclays Capital, Citibank and Credit Suisse.

It also has been a bit of a boondoggle for residents and land owners. Landowners get a royalty for wind towers to operate on their property. If you think about it this land is primarily rolling hills at a distance from development without city services. The main use for this land has been cattle grassing or nothing until AWEC stepped in. The royalty rights are targeted to be $20 million to the land owners. There has been $2 billion invested in this area the last two years. Perhaps one of the drawbacks is the limited employment as only 50 jobs have been created with several hundred temporary construction jobs. Residents have complained at least those who have not personally benefitted as these large towers dominate the landscape. It certainly changes the views in the horizon. According to the American Wind Energy Association the two initial projects were completed in fall 2010. There are other projects were targeted to be completed in early 2011. They are projected to produce 4550 megawatts of energy once all projects are complete. There have been proposals to triple the wind energy in this area to eventually encompass 50 square miles. This is part of SoCal Edison’s transmission line expansion.
According to reports Tehachapi Renewable Transmission Project (TRTP) is the initial phase at a cost of almost $2 billion. The plan is to send 4500 megawatts to Los Angeles about 80 miles from Tehachapi, Ca.

There is certainly Wind Gold in them thar hills as there are also a number of other wind farms in the area such as NextEra, Cal Wind Resources, Coram, Oak Creek Energy Systems, GE Energy, AES, Mogul Energy Windland, and enXco. The vacant land investor can now say buy slopping windy land and wait as it too has paid off.

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