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Large Wind Projects Get Ready to Roll in Arizona, California

Two large wind projects are getting set to boost the wind energy output in the states of Arizona and California over the next several years. While Terra-Gen Power plans to officially break ground today (July 27) on the Alta Wind Energy Center (AWEC) in Mojave, Calif., the Perrin Ranch Wind Project in Arizona still needs to get approval, siting and permitting.

Terra-Gen Power claims AWEC will be the largest wind power project in the world, generating up to 1,550 megawatts (MW) of renewable wind energy, which is nearly double the capacity of the world’s largest existing wind project, according to the company.

The renewable energy company has obtained financing totaling $1.6 billion to launch the first five AWEC projects. The 1,550 MW generated from this project is expected to deliver $1.2 billion in direct local economic benefits over the life of the project. Terra-Gen Power says state and federal energy policies and new transmission lines in the California grid made the AWEC project possible, and the brings California closer to meeting its renewable energy goals.

California’s Renewable Portfolio Standard (RPS) legislation signed in 2002 requires the state’s utilities to get 20 percent of their energy from renewable sources by 2010 and have it up and running on the grid by 2013.

Ultimately, the project will consist of nearly 600 wind turbines, providing power to 1.1 million people, and conserving more than 888 million gallons of water annually.

Terra-Gen says the project will increase California wind industry jobs by 20 percent, and reduce carbon dioxide by more than 52 million metric tons over the project lifetime.

In Arizona, Arizona Public Service Co. (APS) has entered into a long-term power purchase agreement (PPA) with Perrin Ranch Wind LLC, a subsidiary of NextEra Energy Resources, for the energy output from a 99-MW wind farm in Coconino County, Arizona, reports North American Windpower. The project is touted as the largest wind project in Arizona.

The project will consist of 62 wind turbine generators situated on rural grazing land and will provide enough energy for 25,000 homes when running at full capacity.

The project is expected to start construction in the second half of 2011, after APS gets Arizona Corporation Commission (ACC) approval of the PPA, siting, and permitting. Commercial operation is expected in 2012.

The energy will help APS meet the ACC-mandated renewable energy standard, as well as the Arizona-based wind provision included in the company’s 2009 regulatory settlement agreement.

In May, Google announced it was investing $38.8 million in two wind farms in North Dakota, already built by NextEra Energy Resources.

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