Great News: Wind Supplies 5% of California's Electricity

California hit an exciting milestone – the state now gets about 5% of its electricity from wind, reports the California Wind Energy Association.

South Dakota and Iowa get 20% of their electricity from wind, and 30 states brought wind projects online in 2011. Wind installations grew 30% in the US last year.

In 2010, wind supplied 4.7% of California’s electricity, but after adding 921 megawatts last year – enough to supply 400,000 homes – it will cross the 5% threshold.

Solar produces 0.3% of California’s electricity as of 2010. That percentage will also grow rapidly when the big solar plants under construction come online. 

Natural gas supplies the majority of energy in California at 42%,  followed by nuclear and hydropower.

California’s Renewable Portfolio Standard requires the state to get 33% of its power from renewable sources by 2020.

Most of California’s wind plants are in three regions: the Altamont Pass; Tehachapi near Bakersfield and the San Gorgonio Pass near Palm Springs.

NextEra says it’s replacing about 2000 wind turbines in the Altamont Pass with new, much larger state-of-the-art turbines. The new turbines, made by Siemens, are rated at 2.3 megawatts and stand 430 feet tall, higher than the tallest redwood trees. They plan to complete the conversion by 2015.

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