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RIO VISTA – Wind farms continue to grow in California, producing carbon-free renewable energy in regions such as Altamont Pass, the Tehachapi Mountains, the San Gorgonio area and at the Montezuma Hills Wind Resource Area in Northern California.  

enXco, an EDF Energies Nouvelles Company, is one of the major players in the alternative energy industry with a series of wind turbine projects located in the Montezuma Hills south of Highway 12 in Solano County.  

In February, enXco closed $300 million in financing with Santander Holdings USA for the company’s Shiloh III project in the Wind Resource Area.

This transaction brought enXco’s cumulative project financing in North America to over $4 billion over the last 10 years.

The company has developed or owns 22 wind power projects in California and is active in 25 other states bringing the firm’s installed wind energy capacity in the U.S. to 1,126 megawatts (MW).  

In January the company announced that 50 REpower 2.05 MW turbines installed in its 4,600-acre Shiloh III project, producing a combined total of 102.5 MW of power, were online and supplying electricity to the regional transmission grid.

Recently, enXco removed 235 older Kenetech 100kW turbines with an installed capacity of 25 MW, as part of the Shiloh IV repowering project designed to upgrade capacity of this first generation system to 102.5MW using new technology.

The older turbines were installed in 1989 as part of the enXco V project.  

Now under construction, Shiloh IV is enXco’s eighth project to be developed under Power Purchase Agreements with Pacific Gas and Electric Company. 

The new turbines are being built on portions of a 3,012-acre parcel, and are scheduled to go into commercial operation by the end of 2012.

“This repowering effort will allow for increased generation of clean energy with fewer wind turbines,” said Mark Tholke, vice president for enXco’s southwest region. “The new turbines will achieve more than four-times greater capacity and produce nearly 10 times more energy with a minimal addition in land resources.”

With Shiloh IV, enXco will have developed five projects in the Solano County’s wind resource area with a combined total of 511.5MW.

 In the late 1990’s, enXco began a series of “Shiloh” wind farm projects based on the name of the local road connecting Highway 12 with the town of Bird’s Landing. 

 enXco was among the first to perform development and permitting work in the Montezuma Hills. The firm invested in the region, conducted site feasibility studies and negotiated lease agreements with local landowners.

 PPM Energy the U.S. subsidiary of Scottish Power (now Iberdrola Renewables USA), acquired the fully permitted Shiloh I Wind Project from enXco in 2005. 

 One hundred GE 1.5MW wind turbines were installed by PPM on 6,800 acres in the Montezuma Hills at a cost of $235 million.

 At the end of 2008, enXco completed construction of the 150MW Shiloh II project using 75 REpower MM92 turbines each generating up to 2MW.

 Collectively, all of the Shiloh projects produce enough power to supply the needs of 174,000 average homes.

 Today enXco is in the early stages of development that could lead to additional projects in Montezuma Hills.

 “In the last general plan amendment for Solano County, former limits on the size of the wind resource area were lifted with the goal of putting more wind projects in the region,” Mr. Tholke said.

 “Home grown clean energy is the wave of the future, and it can be implemented as long as we have a stable policy environment to support it.”

 Wind power tax credits are scheduled to expire on December 31, 2012, while credits for solar will continue.

 He said the elimination of these credits could cause layoffs, but that the stronger players will survive.

 “I’m optimistic that these wind power tax credits will be renewed. They lapsed for up to nine months in the past but were eventually reinstated. If they are not renewed, I envision a smaller market for wind power in the future.”

Landowners – mostly hay farmers and sheep ranchers – benefit from multi-generational, 30-year leases with royalties paid for the use of their property. 

While wind farms cover thousands of acres, only two percent of the land is used for turbine installations, leaving 98 percent for agriculture, animal husbandry and open space. Grazing and agricultural pursuits can continue unabated right up to the turbine pedestals.

enXco established a Green Jobs Program at the Rio Vista High School with a $150,000 grant to train students for careers in renewable technologies. The company provided two turbines to the school’s lab. Some 30 students are enrolled in this program. 

“There are many economic impact advantages associated with wind power, such as increased property taxes, new jobs, more business for local suppliers and the flow-through ripple effect caused when buying cement, gravel and rebar from nearby firms that pumps revenue into the local infrastructure,” Mr. Tholke added. 

“We have presence in the region with an operations and maintenance facility in the Montezuma Hills for our work crew. We also have six operations centers in the state in addition to our regional office in San Ramon.”

enXco (www.enxco.com)  develops, constructs, operates and manages renewable energy projects throughout the U.S. enXco is the largest third-party operations and maintenance provider for wind farms in North America.