By Tiffany Hsu, Los Angeles Times
May 25, 2011
Google Inc. is investing $55 million in a large Mojave Desert wind farm, pumping fresh air into California's struggling wind power industry.
The Internet search giant made the announcement in Anaheim at the industry's largest gathering, where wind farm developers and turbine makers said the investment could be a key step in California's efforts to regain its once enviable title as the world's capital for wind power.
"We just fell off a cliff," said Gary Polakovic, a consultant for San Diego wind energy developer EnXco Inc. "But all eyes are on California now. It's our chance to do this right."
Google said Tuesday that it was partnering with Citibank, which is also shelling out $55 million to help finance part of the Alta Wind Energy Center, one of the world's largest wind installations.
When complete, the project in the Tehachapi Mountains will generate 1.5 gigawatts, enough to power 450,000 homes. The installation will help boost wind jobs in the state 20% while feeding more than $1.2 billion into the Kern County economy, according to developers.
The project stands in stark contrast to the state of wind turbines in California.
In the industry's early years, California led the way, with its turbines generating 90% of the world's wind power as thousands of massive propellers dotted mountains from Palm Springs to San Francisco.
But in recent years, California ? hurt by permitting delays and expiring government incentives ? has seen its share of the world's wind power plunge to 1.6% as other states and countries bolstered their alternative energy projects, according to the Global Wind Energy Council. The state gets just 3% of its electricity from wind, compared with 15% in Iowa and 8% in Texas.
"We stalled and fell behind," said Lorelei Oviatt, planning director for Kern County. "It's not just where the wind blows ? if it were that simple, everyone would be happy."
I'll believe corporations are persons when Texas executes one.: LBJ's Ghost