News and analysis about renewable energy in California.

California Sets Wind Power Records During High-Wind Event

Wind turbines east of Tehachapi Pass | Photo: Don Barrett/Flickr/Creative Commons License

More wind power than ever has powered the state in the last few days, according to the California Independent System Operator (CaISO), which runs the electrical power grid covering most of the state. On Sunday, wind power production reached an all-time peak of 4,196 megawatts -- nearly twice the output of the shuttered San Onofre nuclear power plant.

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All told Sunday, wind turbines generated 70,560 megawatt-hours of electrical power throughout the day, 13 percent of the state's total electrical power consumption.

That beats a record set Friday, on which day wind power's contribution to the grid topped out at 4,095 megawatts. The previous record of 3,944 megawatts had been set in early March.

There's 5,899 megawatts' worth of wind generating capacity attached to the state's grid, but inefficiencies and downtime will always keep wind energy production below theoretical maximum output.

"With these impressive wind production levels, California is well positioned to meet the 33 percent by 2020 green power goal," said ISO President and CEO Steve Berberich in a press release. "Our control center operators are tracking a steady increase in renewable energy and we are leveraging the latest forecasting technology as well as complementary flexible resources to capture and optimize this carbon-free power supply."

The record establishes California as the second-largest producer of wind energy in the U.S., well behind Texas -- whose more than 10,000 megawatts of wind turbine capacity generated a peak of 9,481 megawatts of power on February 9, according to CaISO.

Ironically, the state's use of wind energy slackened Monday as extremely strong winds buffeted the state, with gusts as high as 97 miles per hour recorded in one Southern California location on Sunday. Many wind turbines are equipped with regulators that shut the turbines down when winds get into the 55 mph range or above, so as to reduce wear on the turbines' moving parts and prevent blades from hitting the towers that hold them. On Monday, wind power production on the CaISO grid topped out at 3,100 megawatts or so, staying in the 2,600-2,800 megawatt range for most of the day. Not that many people in Southern California could use it anyway: high winds had taken down power to about 9,600 Southern California Edison customers by about 3:00 Monday afternoon.

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About the Author

Chris Clarke is a natural history writer and environmental journalist currently at work on a book about the Joshua tree. He lives in Joshua Tree.
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I sure would like to see small / micro wind generators get more support in CA - there are plenty of properties around the state that could be producing all or part of their own energy needs this way, at far lower cost per kWh than by solar photovoltaic.

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another stronger wind event is setting up for Monday-Tuesday of next week. It will be interesting to see how many of the gawdy turbines, located insultlingly upon the pristine landscape, can survive another round of backslaps from mother nature. Well, we can only hope....

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My experience with the wind industry is that nothing is as it seems and every statement has to be scrutinized. No one should ever ignore the fact that taking billions and billions in profits off the taxpayer's backs, is a clear motive to lie.

California may have set some wind energy records the other day but everybody needs to take a closer look at the numbers. "On Sunday, wind power production reached an all-time peak of 4,196 megawatts -- nearly twice the output of the shuttered San Onofre nuclear power plant". For an hour? The San Onofre nuclear power plant runs, 24 hours a day.

"All told Sunday, wind turbines generated 70,560 megawatt-hours of electrical power throughout the day, 13 percent of the state's total electrical power consumption". This is over 3-4 times the wind energy production for an average day in California. The truth is we had one glorious and rare windy day.

Now we can look over the reality of this statement. "With these impressive wind production levels, California is well positioned to meet the 33 percent by 2020 green power goal", With wind turbines only producing about 3 percent of California's energy, means that CA will have to install 10 times the wind energy to meet it needs. But that only hold true if the population and energy demands remain the same as they are today. Unfortunately California's population will continue to grow so the state will have to install even more than 10 times as many turbines as they have now.


Looking ahead with more than 10 times as many turbines means that there will be very few places left in the state not blighted from wind energy squalor. Imagine taking a drive and never stop seeing turbines as you drive across the state. Imagine the loss in property values from the millions of poor folks stuck living near all these turbines. Then imaging not seeing any eagles, I do because these days are coming.

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Just remember wind power works great if you are being paid to sell it.

Wind power works great if politicians can help the industry food chain steal tax credits from taxpayers and then turn around and reward them again with carbon credits.

Wind power works great if ridding the world of species like whooping cranes and eagles is not a concern.

Wind power works great in power point presentations, animated clips, and sappy commercials.

Wind power works great if you would rather see an industrial landscape over god given beauty and productive ecosystems.

Wind power is fantastic if your goal is to waste time and resources on a non-solution to society's energy needs.

But wind power works best of all when Democracy takes a back seat to an assembly line of corruption allowing outsiders to plunder and pillage communities.