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Calif. Renewable Energy Discussions Consider Out-Of-State Wind

Tony Webster/Flickr

Turbines spin at the Medicine Bow Wind Project in Wyoming.

Tony Webster/Flickr

A plan to draw wind from other Western states features prominently in the discussion about how California can comply with new renewable energy standards.

Energy regulators, utilities and power companies met Wednesday in Sacramento to plan for the new standards, which require utilities to derive half their energy from renewable sources by 2030.

 Jan Strack of San Diego Gas and Electric says out-of-state wind farms offer the most enticing long-term option to bolster supply.

"The higher capacity factor wind machines are the ones that keep bubbling up," Strack said. "Wyoming—New Mexico is also another good one—we’re looking at 45 to 50 percent capacity factors with the new wind technologies."

Strack says that means the farms gather energy longer each day than solar installations, as well as at times when households use more energy.

The operator of California’s electric grid is planning to integrate its system with a counterpart in other Western states. It points to increased wind energy as a benefit.

Environmental groups have criticized that plan, because California would contract with grids that are more heavily reliant on coal energy, as well.

Andy Horne of Imperial County argued the state should generate its own power.

"I don’t really understand the logic of taking California’s money, paid by California’s ratepayers, to accomplish a California policy objective, and shipping those resources off to people like Wyoming wind farmers," Horne said.

State energy agencies plan to release a report in September with suggestions on how to achieve the new renewable energy goals.