GE XLE 1.85 MW
Avg. Wind Speed:
2.6 million lbs. of coal
Soledad City Leaders Announce Construction of Salinas Valley’s Largest Wind Turbine
Project will offset energy usage at City’s Water Reclamation Facility and protect ratepayers from future rate increases.
SOLEDAD, Calif., 2014 — The utility scale wind turbine, which broke ground in January 2014, will annually produce approximately 3.5 million kWh of clean, renewable energy to offset usage at the nearby water reclamation facility. When wind is sufficient, the electricity generated will significantly exceed the facility’s needs, allowing the City to net-meter the surplus back to the grid. The project is projected to generate over $2 million in savings over 25 years, which will protect ratepayers against future rate increases.
“Our highest priority is always to protect our taxpayers, who work hard for every dollar they earn. This project allows us to deliver them real savings with no upfront capital costs. It is a huge win for our city and our local community.”
Adela Gonzales – Soledad City Manager
In addition to its financial advantages, the City also touted the significant environmental benefits the project will deliver. The projected energy the wind turbine will generate will reduce greenhouse gas emissions by nearly 2,500 metric tons, equivalent to taking over 500 vehicles off the road. Despite those environmental benefits, city leaders sought to ensure the project presented no threat to the endangered California condor, as Soledad lies between the two condor release sites in Big Sur and Pinnacles National Park.
City leaders conduct an extensive environmental analysis before approving the project, including working with researchers from Stanford University and the Ventana Wildlife Society to ensure that the project was planned and designed to avoid posing any hazard to condors and includes ongoing monitoring efforts to identify, and if necessary, implement measures to avoid condor risks due to changing environmental circumstances.
The City of Soledad contracted with Foundation Windpower to develop, finance and construct the project. Foundation Windpower has completed a number of successful wind energy projects across California, with many more currently under construction or development.
“We are delighted to have completed this project with the City of Soledad and applaud their leadership and strategic commitment to sustainable, energy efficient operations of its water reclamation facility, a critical asset towards the continued growth of the City and the region,” said Matt Wilson, CEO of Foundation Windpower. “Foundation Windpower looks forward to being City of Soledad’s partner in this project’s long term operation.”
The new wind turbine is just the latest investment the City of Soledad has made in its aim to reduce long-term operating expenses and protect public resources in order to more effectively attract tourism and investment to support a growing local economy and job base. Recent upgrades to its water reclamation facility and a continued focus on aligning services regionally with the County and neighboring cities were all undertaken in order to protect public resources and generate tax savings, both of which can be invested locally to support economic development efforts.
“In order to continue to grow our local economy and provide our residents with greater economic opportunities, we have to protect and utilize all available resources, and wind is a resource we have a lot of,” said Soledad’s Mayor Fred Ledesma. “With this project, we have the opportunity to transform one of our most abundant energy sources into real savings for our taxpayers and residents that can now be invested back into our local economy. We hope this project serves as a model for those public agencies in Monterey County and throughout California looking to strengthen public finances and plan for the long-term economic growth of our region.”