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United States

California makes good on promise -- Letters of intent for 1200 MW -- aiming for 1000 MW by summer

California's new Consumer Power and Conservation Financing Authority has signed letters of intent (LOI) for 14 renewable generating projects for a combined capacity of more than 1300 MW, nearly all of which is wind. The power authority's five directors, who appear to be taking seriously Governor Gray Davis' challenge for the state to meet 17% of its energy needs with renewables, met for the first time August 24. By their third meeting September 17, the LOIs were signed off.

Twelve of the new projects, 1219 MW in total, are wind. Another 100 MW will come from two bio-fuel projects. All projects, except for a Clipper Windpower project in Oregon and a PacifiCorp Power Marketing sale, are in California. The power authority intends to bring 1000 MW on-line by summer 2002.

California Senate Bill 6 created the power authority earlier this year and gave it permission to issue $5 billion in state bonds to buy reserve power generation. Its goal is to build a 15% reserve. The bill charges the power authority with providing "the reserve power necessary to ensure that the market provides low-cost, available power sufficient to guarantee that Californians never again have to worry about rolling blackouts," says David Freeman, authority chairman. Freeman, who was energy advisor to Gray, has had a career in the utility industry that spans five decades and has consistently supported wind power.

The list of wind projects include three by Clipper Windpower, three by FPL Energy under the names of Windridge, High Winds and Southern Sierra Power, two by Enron Wind Development, and one each by SeaWest, Cannon Energy and CVT Marketing Group. Most are in the 30-50 MW range, but one Enron project is 300 MW, the Southern Sierra Power project is 200 MW, the High Winds project is 150 MW and one Clipper project and the PacifiCorp deal are 100 MW each.

With the LOIs in place, the power authority can begin to negotiate with each project. The board also gave Freeman the authority to negotiate with gas-fired peaking projects that it says will firm up intermittent resources such as wind and solar projects.

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