RANCHO CUCAMONGA – The Inland Empire Utilities Agency is getting ready to hit the “on”
switch for its latest project just in time for the windy season.
On Nov. 29, the wind turbine situated on Etiwanda Avenue north of Sixth Street will go online and begin producing cheap, clean energy for the regional utilities agency.
“With all of the green projects out there, we try to be leaders and be environmentally
responsible,” said Michael Camacho, IEUA board member whose district includes Rancho
Cucamonga. “You almost wonder why we haven’t looked at that in the past.”
The towering wind turbine, measured approximately 265 feet from base to tip of the blade, will generate 20 percent of the energy needed to run the wastewater treatment plant on Sixth Street. The Regional Water Recycling Plant #4 uses a significant amount of energy to treat an average flow of 5 million gallons every day.
Taking full advantage of the windy corridor, the power-generating turbine is part of the utilities agency’s plan to go off the electricity grid by 2020. Three years ago, IEUA installed three megawatt of solar power at its various facilities. The agency is set to install 2.8 megawatts of fuel cells fed with renewable biosolids at its Ontario facility.
These technologies, combined with energy generated by the wind turbine, will provide IEUA
half of its energy needs, said General Manager Tom Love. He believes going gridless in the
near future is a definite possibility. “I think we have a really good chance of getting there,” Love said.
The wind turbine, located adjacent to the West Valley Detention Center in a heavy industrial zone, has been up for several weeks. The base structure is 185 feet tall with soon-to-be rotating blades that are 80 feet long. When it goes online at the end of the month, it is expected to generate 2.2 million kilowatt hours every year, enough to power about 250 average homes.
The Japanese manufactured wind turbine was installed by Menlo Park-based Foundation
Windpower on the Sixth Street property without any IEUA funds. The agreement between the
public and private agencies allows IEUA to purchase power from Foundation Windpower at a
reduced cost. According to Love, the reduced price will save IEUA $100,000 per year.
Love said the agency is currently evaluating the installation of another smaller turbine on the Rancho Cucamonga site in the future.