No Birds in Birds Landing, CA, but Plenty of Sheep
by Jenny Kim -- March 10th, 2012
Our Monday itinerary included a visit to NextEra’s High Winds Energy Center in Birds Landing, CA, where we met with John Goodwin. There were no birds to be seen, but instead hundreds of sheep resting in the shade of giant wind turbines. The site was originally grazing land for sheep, but NextEra made a win-win deal with the farmers in providing them with extra income from leasing their land and in generating clean energy for California.
NextEra has over 20 years of experience in wind energy and has 8743 megawatts (MW) in operation around the U.S. and Canada. High Winds is the largest of California’s wind energy capacity at 162 MW. The local wind phenomena is the underlying reason behind the site’s success in wind power generation. There are regular wind speeds of 15 to 30 mph from March to October, as well as a 20-30 degree F temperature differential created by hot San Joaquin Valley air. This results in a capacity factor upwards of 50% during those peak months and an annual capacity factor of about 35%.
We had the opportunity to tour the site and actually go inside one of the wind turbines. They are 65 meters tall and are simply astonishing up close.
After thanking John Goodwin for the tour of NextEra’s High Winds Energy Center, we set off for Napa Valley for our next stop: an eco-winery!