January 31, 2008

L.A.breaks ground on largest city-owned wind farm

U.S. Department of Energy

Los Angeles Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa and the city's Department of Water and Power (DWP) broke ground January 31 at the site of the Pine Tree Wind Farm in the Tehachapi Mountains, roughly 100 miles northwest of the city. The $425 million project is expected to be completed in 2009 and to deliver 120 megawatts (MW) of electricity to Los Angeles, enough to power 56,000 homes.

Villaraigosa says Pine Tree will be the largest municipally owned and municipally operated wind farm in the nation. In comparison, the second largest city-owned wind farm, Sacramento Municipal Utility District's Solano County project, outsources its operations to a third party.

Pine Tree will comprise 80 1.5-MW wind turbines on its 8,000-acre site, feeding electricity into a new high-voltage transmission line, and the new Barren Ridge electrical substation.

Construction is expected to generate hundreds of contract jobs, in addition to 12 full-time jobs for the project's long-term maintenance.

The energy produced at Pine Tree is expected to displace 200,000 tons of greenhouse gas emissions, or the equivalent of taking 35,000 cars off the road. It is also expected to cut 8 tons of nitrous oxide and 11 tons of carbon monoxide. The project will bring Los Angeles closer to its goal of producing 20 percent of its energy from renewables by 2010 — and 35 percent by 2020 — while cutting the city's carbon footprint.

"Pine Tree is the start of a new model of clean energy, in which the City of Los Angeles is no longer satisfied with only buying clean power, but is taking the lead nationally in producing its own," Villaraigosa said.

Villaraigosa also announced plans to develop the Pine Canyon Wind Project on 12,000 acres of recently purchased property adjacent to the Pine Tree project. When completed, the 150-MW wind farm will surpass Pine Tree as the largest wind farm in the nation.

Last May, Villaraigosa announced GREEN LA – An Action Plan to Lead the Nation in Fighting Global Warming. The plan is composed of 50 initiatives that aim to reduce the city's greenhouse gas emissions 35 percent below 1990 levels by 2030, going beyond the targets of the Kyoto Protocol.