On Tuesday August 3, the Alta Wind Energy Center (AWEC) officially broke ground in Tehachapi Pass. When completed, it could be three times larger than any existing wind farm in the US, and will output a mammoth 3 gigawatts.
By comparison, a good-sized coal plant or nuclear reactor can produce 1 gigawatt, so we are talking huge amounts of power, enough to power 600,000 homes. There will be hundreds of modern turbines spread across thousands of acres, most of which is private land.
Ranchers and landowners will get a major source of continuing revenue. Thousands of jobs will be created. The area will certainly experience an economic boom. Tehachapi Pass is a mountain pass between the Tehachapi and Sierra Nevada mountain ranges. It connects the San Joaquin Valley to the Mojave Desert. Differences in temperature between the two regions create wind. Hot air from the desert rises and cooler air rushes in to replace it. The pass acts as a funnel, speeding up the wind. Thus, it’s a perfect location for wind turbines.
The same type of process happens near Palm Springs and Altamont. But those areas already have lots of turbines, and most of them are older and small. The turbines that will be installed in Tehachapi are much larger and state of the art.