Plans to build the world’s two largest wind power plants underline the growing maturity of the technology, says the U.S. wind lobby group.
WASHINGTON, DC – “Wind power is extremely competitive today,” said Randall Swisher, executive director of the American Wind Energy Association. “New wind plants can be installed within 18 months to two years, with only six months required for construction.” The wind potential of California and neighboring states is vast–enough for wind to be a major contributor to the Golden State’s demand over the next two to five years.” Announcements have been made this year to install one wind farm on the border of Oregon and Washington states, with another facility at the U.S. Department of Energy Nevada Test Site (NTS). The two sites will have total generating capacity of 560 megawatts, which is sufficient power for more than half a million people. “More importantly for California, 385 MW will be in place and generating enough electricity for 385,000 people by the end of this year,” he adds. “Fossil-fired power plants often take several years to complete, nuclear plants even longer.” A third wind plant will be operational before the end of this year in southern Califonia, adding another 200 MW to the grid. That project is being developed by Southern Sierra Power, a subsidiary of FPL Energy. The total wind energy potential of California and five other western states (Nevada, Wyoming, Montana, Washington and Oregon) is more than 600,000 MW. “There are limits to how much of this resource can be tapped in the near term, primarily because of limited transmission line capacity, but wind should be the top of the list as California looks for new sources of electricity,” says Swisher. The 300 MW Stateline wind project will involve 450 turbines to be installed by the PacifiCorp utility and wind plant developer FPL Energy. The 260 MW Nevada Test Site will install 325 turbines by DOE and MNS Wind Energy.