How Wind Energy in Los Angeles Helps the Environment

In 2006, the Los Angeles Department of Water and Power in an alliance with General Electric, went forward with a 120 megawatt wind farm, named the Pine Tree Wind Project. It is hoped that it will one day satisfy 20 percent of the utility's energy requirements.

Back in 2004, wind energy in the whole state of California produced more than 4,200 million kilowatt-hours of electricity, approximately 1.5 percent of all electricity generated. More than 90 percent of all of the state's wind generating apparatus is located in three regions: Altamont Pass, San Gorgonio and Tehachapi.

Wind power plants are comprised of turbines that take advantage of the energy in wind motion to make mechanical energy, which is then converted into electrical energy. Wind turbines can be placed near farms, homes and businesses in breezy locations, such as along the Los Angeles coast. Turbines are deployable in areas where it isn't cost-efficient to place power lines.

The parts of a wind farm include turbines, which feed through an underground power conduit and a connection from the farm to the closest power grid. Wind power is more accessible in certain seasons because the climate affects wind speed. In Los Angeles, speeds are highest in the scorching summer period. An estimated three-quarters of all yearly wind energy is generated during the spring and summer.

Though power created by older wind turbines is not as cost effective as some other forms of energy generation, new generation wind turbine designs should be able to compete with power costs from nuclear and coal plants.

Some advantages in utilizing wind energy include: replacement of polluting conventional power plants; no pollution in the air, soil or water; it is completely renewable; the installment is relatively swift; and energy production not swayed by gas and oil price increases.

However, there are some issues with wind power, such as: the required use of extensive tracts of land, albeit the fact that simultaneous land uses are available for such tasks as agriculture and cattle grazing. Other potential concerns are that it can cause erosion in desert areas, and disrupt wildlife habitats.

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