Friday, February 02, 2007


New Windmills Near Delta Fuel State's Global Warming Fight
- David R. Baker, Chronicle Staff Writer

California's latest source of clean energy started spinning slowly in the wind above the Sacramento-San Joaquin River Delta last spring.

One hundred white windmills, their blades stretching 122 feet, line the hilltops west of Rio Vista. Installed over the last year, they can generate up to 150 megawatts of electricity, enough to light 112,500 homes.

The Shiloh Wind Power Plant, which was unveiled to reporters and utility executives Wednesday, represents a new generation of technology for wind power. Each of its turbines can generate the same amount of electricity as 15 older windmills, some of which still dot the same grassy hills.

Shiloh also embodies California's mounting efforts to curb global warming.

It is one of the first wind farms to begin operations since California began ordering the state's utilities to use more renewable energy in 2002. Pacific Gas and Electric Co. buys half of Shiloh's electricity. The rest goes to Palo Alto's municipal utility and the Modesto Irrigation District.

"It's exactly the type of project that's going to be helping California meet its global warming pollution-reduction goals," said Audrey Chang, staff scientist with the Natural Resources Defense Council. "This is what clean energy looks like."

The project also demonstrates some of wind power's limitations.

It is spread across 6,800 acres, vastly more than a traditional power plant would require. At roughly $220 million, it also cost more to build than a plant burning natural gas or coal.

But as Shiloh's developers note, its fuel is free, avoiding the wild swings in price that have afflicted natural gas. The turbines pump no carbon dioxide, nitrogen oxide or sulfur dioxide into the air. And the land still belongs to property owners who will continue using it to grow hay and graze sheep.

to read the rest of the article check out the San Francisco Chronicle

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