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Winds of Change A-Blowin': Pine Tree Wind Project

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On Thursday, a groundbreaking ceremony was held a few miles north of Mojave for the country's largest city-owned windfarm. The Pine Tree Wind Project is Los Angeles' hope for the future of power, supplying 120 megawatts of renewable energy to our city. In fact, Mayor Villaraigosa, who attended the event and who has been working on ways to make energy more green and efficient, says "20 percent of the city's energy will come from renewable sources by the year 2010" (Daily News).

California was the first state to harness the winds for power, having installed the first turbines in 1981, and remaining a national leader in the field. Plans for the Pine Tree Wind Project first surfaced a couple of years ago, and now plans are being revealed for another large-scale turbine project, Pine Canyon Wind Farm, which "is expected to supply 150 MW and serve 70,000 households." With Pine Tree's 120 MW of renewable energy slated to serve 56,000 households, this will bring LA's renewable energy to 14% of its total. According to H. David Nahai, general manager of the Department of Water and Power, "Together, these wind projects will generate enough electricity to power nearly 130,000 homes in Los Angeles."

The groundbreaking was for the Barren Ridge Switching Station, which is the central command of the power being harnessed by the wind. Energy at the wind farm will be generated by 80 1.5-megawatt wind turbine generators. There will be a transmission line and substation connecting the Pine Tree site "to a high-voltage transmission line running up the east side of the Sierra Nevada mountains. The wind farm will include standard pad-mount transformers, underground collection systems and feeds into the new substation" (GE). The location was selected for its ideal hilly and windy conditions. The pricetag for this endeavor is $425 million.

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The Pine Tree Wind Project is scheduled to begin operation in April 2009.

Photo of the windmills off the I-10 by kevindooley via Flickr