Preliminary construction is expected to begin shortly on the 24 MW Alite Wind Farm in Tehachapi, California, which will supply direct "behind the metre" power to a large industrial on-site customer, the California Portland Cement (CPC) company. One of CPC's neighbours happens to be Oak Creek Energy Systems, a veteran wind energy developer now in partnership with Australian Allco Wind Energy (Windpower Monthly, February 2007), the owner of the Alite project. Oak Creek's Ed Duggan says his company had been in talks with CPC since the California energy crisis in 2000 when the cement company was hit with enormous bills as a heavy electricity consumer. "We've been talking since 2000 to find a way to help them benefit from the wind that flows over their property. So we've been working with them over the past year to measure the wind resource and to come up with a way for them to take advantage of that. And we basically came up with a way," says Duggan. The project will use eight Vestas 3 MW turbines which will feed power directly into the power hungry cement facility. Due to transmission grid constraints, the arrangement is not designed in a net-metering configuration where extra power is delivered to the local energy grid. Rather, the project will nearly always be producing less power than needed and the local grid will provide the balance. Duggan says that on the rare occasions the wind turbines produce more energy than CPC can use, the output will be regulated down so they do not feed into the grid. "It's pretty rare to have a big demand right where the wind is. You need to think outside the box to make something like this work and that's what we did," he says.
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Senior Renewable Energy Analyst (WindGEMINI Product Lead) DNV GL Bristol (City Centre), City of Bristol