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Wind friendly municipal utilities

Municipalities in California are not required to meet the same stringent requirements of the state's renewable energy standard law, yet some continue to support notable wind developments. Last month, the large Sacramento Municipal Utility District (SMUD) placed an order with Vestas for the second phase of the Solano wind project in Rio Vista, California. Phase one consisted of eight 3 MW turbines and was commissioned in early 2006. The new order consists of 21 units of the same turbine, bringing total project size to 87 MW. Vestas will supply, install and commission the turbines as well as provide maintenance and service for five years. Shipment of the first units will begin in the fourth quarter of 2007, with the commissioning date set for the second quarter of 2008. Separately in California, Southern California Edison, an investor-owned utility that is obliged by state law to invest in renewables, signed seven new long term power agreements. They included four wind developments: the two "Caithness 251" wind projects in Tehachapi, which begin at 15 MW and 5.8 MW with potential expansions to 18.3 and 15.8 MW, respectively; and the two "Ridgetop Energy" projects in Mojave, which start at 6 MW and 5 MW with potential expansions to 17 MW. The power purchase agreements for all four projects are for 20 years. The utility's Stuart Hemphill says the new agreements are only the first results of a successful 2005 solicitation and that "we continue to work with other renewable resource developers on significant, additional renewable energy contracts that we hope to complete in the near future."

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