Friday, April 28, 2006

Massive Solano wind energy project comes online

April 15, 2006

Massive Solano wind energy project comes online

By Nathan Halverson

FAIRFIELD - The giant blades are almost a football field in length. And this week, for the first time, they began spinning and producing energy.

The huge wind energy project in Solano County, known as Shiloh, is capable of producing 150 megawatts of energy. That's enough energy to power about 45,000 households.

Pacific Gas and Electric purchases about 75 megawatts from the project. Other buyers include the city of Palo Alto, which wants a portion of its energy to come from a renewable source.

The turbines are located in the Montezuma Hills west of Highway 12 between Suisun City and Rio Vista, near Bird's Landing.

Shiloh is the first renewable energy project in the state to be completed under a state law requiring power companies to provide more alternative energy.

"It's a substantial milestone," said Jon Tremayne, spokesman for PG&E.

The law, known as the Renewables Portfolio Standards and passed in 2001, requires some electricity providers such as PG&E to increase the amount of renewable energy they provide by 1 percent each year. Electric companies must procure 20 percent of their energy from renewable sources by 2017 under the law.

"Our goal is to reach that percent by 2010," Tremayne said.
A second wind energy project in Montezuma Hills, known as Shiloh II, has been proposed and is undergoing an environmental review. It will also generate 150 megawatts.

The mammoth turbines, which are about 660 feet tall, are built on ranch lands in the area. Ranchers receive substantial payments from the energy companies for leasing a small bit of land for the turbines.

Some ranchers in Montezuma Hills said they would make more money from the turbines than from raising livestock, and the turbines require virtually no work.

One of those ranchers, Bill Blacklock, has three turbines on his property. He said it's been a lot quieter since construction on the turbines was completed.

The income more than makes up for having to look at them every day, Blacklock said.

"They're great. They're not nearly as unsightly as the ones they used to build. These are much more pleasant to look at," he said.

Reach Nathan Halverson at 425-4646 Ext. 267 or

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