Tehachapi, Calif., January 10, 2011 — GE Energy Financial Services, a unit of GE, and Bankers Commercial Corp., a unit of UnionBanCal Corp., have purchased the first wind farm to start operations in one of the largest wind energy projects in the U.S.
GE Energy Financial Services and Bankers Commercial Corporation acquired the 150-MW Alta Wind I wind farm in Tehachapi, in Kern County, California, and are leasing it back to its developer, operator and manager, Terra-Gen Power, LLC.
The wind farm, using 100 GE 1.5-MW SLE turbines, was completed in the fourth quarter of last year. GE Energy Financial Services — a global investor in multiple energy generation and distribution projects and companies — and Bankers Commercial Corporation each own 50 percent of the wind farm.
Funds from the sale will be used to pay off construction loans Terra-Gen entered into for the project last March. Financial details were not disclosed.
The Alta Wind I farm is the first phase of the Alta Wind Energy Center, a planned 3,000-MW project. The first 1,550 MW of the center, including this phase, is contracted to Southern California Edison.
When complete, the center will be able to provide electricity for 1.3 million California homes. Terra-Gen estimates the center will create more than 3,000 domestic manufacturing, construction, operations and maintenance jobs, and will contribute more than $1.2 billion to Kern County’s economy.
According to Terra-Gen, the center is expected to cut carbon dioxide emissions by more than 52 million metric tons over the next decade, equivalent to taking 890,000 cars off the road.
The wind farms will help California meet its goal of ensuring that by 2020, 33 percent of the power it consumes comes from renewable sources.
Alta Wind I is the first project to connect with Southern California Edison’s Tehachapi Renewable Transmission Project, the first major transmission project in California to be constructed specifically for accessing a renewable-rich resource area.
When completed, the Tehachapi Renewable Transmission Project will consist of more than 250 miles of new and upgraded high-voltage transmission infrastructure.
The project is eligible for a US Treasury grant created under the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act. It allows renewable energy project owners to access a cash grant in lieu of tax credits.