California's Wind Energy Record Bested in Storm

A new record for wind energy production was set amid a powerful windstorm

By Melissa Pamer
|  Wednesday, Apr 10, 2013  |  Updated 7:15 AM PDT
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Along with added fire danger, the high winds are also providing some powerful benefits for California. Wind turbines are turning out a record amount of power. Gordon Tokumatsu reports from Lancaster for the NBC4 News at 6 p.m. on April 9, 2013.

Gordon Tokumatsu

Along with added fire danger, the high winds are also providing some powerful benefits for California. Wind turbines are turning out a record amount of power. Gordon Tokumatsu reports from Lancaster for the NBC4 News at 6 p.m. on April 9, 2013.

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Southern California's recent windstorm downed trees, knocked out power lines and fanned the flames of a wildfire, but it also set an energy record by spinning those towering white turbines in the desert.

A new high was recorded Sunday in the amount of electric power produced by wind turbines in the state, according to the independent nonprofit that runs about four-fifths of the state's power grid.

Wind gusts of more than 70 mph powered through the region beginning Saturday and lasting through Monday, with thousands losing power and drivers encountering poor visibility. Gusts were expected to continue in some areas late Tuesday into Wednesday.

The new record was set at 6:44 p.m. Sunday, when turbines spinning of the California Independent System Operator grid reported 4,196 megawatts of power produced.

That amount of power is enough to provide power to more than 3.1 million homes on average at once, according to data in a Cal ISO explainer.

On Friday, April 5, wind turbines had produced 4,095 megawatts of power, surpassing California's record of 3,944 megawatts, which had been set on March 3.

“With these impressive wind production levels, California is well positioned to meet the 33 percent by 2020 green power goal,” said ISO President and CEO Steve Berberich, referring to a sustainable energy target set by California law.

Wind plants in California have a capacity of 5,899 megawatts on the Cal ISO grid, the organization said in a press release Monday, but not all of that capacity was available during the windstorm because of routine outages.

In the United States, California comes in second in wind power to Texas, where the state's peak production is more than twice that seen the Golden State's Sunday record.
 

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