Wind Energy

Wind Energy in California

In the year 2004, wind energy in California produced 4,258 million kilowatt-hours of electricity, about 1.5 percent of the state's total electricity. That's more than enough to light a city the size of San Francisco.

More than 13,000 of California's wind turbines, or 95 percent of all of California's wind generating capacity and output, are located in three primary regions: Altamont Pass (east of San Francisco), Tehachapi (south east of Bakersfield) and San Gorgonio (near Palm Springs, east of Los Angeles). In 1995, these areas produced 30 percent of the entire world's wind-generated electricity.

According to the Electric Power Research Institute, the cost of producing wind energy has decreased nearly four fold since 1980. The levelized cost of energy from wind turbines in 1993 was about 7.5 cents per kilowatt/hour. With current wind research and development efforts, the Energy Commission estimates that newer technologies can reduce the cost of wind energy to 3.5 cents per kilowatt-hour.

Wind energy also creates jobs. The America Wind Energy Association estimated that through the early 1990s, 1,200 direct jobs in California's wind industry, with as many as 4,000 indirect jobs, were created. Total private investment in wind energy in California amounted to $3.2 billion through 1991.

Smaller turbines can be used by farms, homes and businesses in windy locations, such as along the coast. They can also be used (like solar cells) in areas where it is not feasible to run power lines because of the cost.

The Energy Commission tracks wind production in its annual Wind Performance Reports.

Sources: California Energy Commission, Electric Power Reserach Institute, American Wind Energy Association