Massive Calif. wind farm gets $1.2 billion in financing

Terra-Gen Power will use funding to complete 3,000-megawatt wind project north of Los Angeles.

Candace Lombardi
In a software-driven world, it's easy to forget about the nuts and bolts. Whether it's cars, robots, personal gadgetry or industrial machines, Candace Lombardi examines the moving parts that keep our world rotating. A journalist who divides her time between the United States and the United Kingdom, Lombardi has written about technology for the sites of The New York Times, CNET, USA Today, MSN, ZDNet, Silicon.com, and GameSpot. She is a member of the CNET Blog Network and is not a current employee of CNET.
Candace Lombardi
2 min read
Wind turbines already in place in Tehachapi, Calif.
Terra-Gen Power announced Wednesday it's garnered $1.2 billion in financing to build what could be the largest wind energy project in the U.S.

The 3,000-megawatt Alta Wind Energy Center when completed would actually be a series of several massive wind farms located near Tehachapi, Calif., a city in Kern County about 116 miles north of Los Angeles.

Terra-Gen is a renewable-energy company that develops wind, solar, and geothermal projects for producing electricity. Its first phase of this Alta Wind Energy Center, called Alta Project I, already has financing. Its construction began in March and consists of 150 megawatts worth of General Electric turbines.

The financing announced Wednesday will go to support the remaining four phases of the 3,000-megawatt wind project: Alta Project II through Alta Project V. The deal includes a $499 million construction bridge loan and $580 million in pass-through certificates that come due in 2035 and involve several banks including Citi, Barclays, and Credit Suisse. Terra-Gen said in a statement that it believes this is the first wind project to also be structured as a leveraged-lease. Citibank will purchase Alta Projects II through V once they're in operation, and lease them back to Terra-Gen, who will operate and maintain the facilities.

Southern California Edison already signed a long-term power of purchase agreement for 1,550 megawatts worth of generated power annually with the company in 2006. This project will go in part toward fulfilling that deal.

The phase two 570-megawatt wind farm will use 190 3-megawatt wind turbines made by Vestas-American Wind Technology. When 720 megawatts are completed and running, it will increase California's overall wind capacity by 25 percent, according to Terra-Gen.

Completion of the 3,000-megawatt wind project would unseat Texas and Oregon in their unofficial places as states with the largest wind farms in the U.S.

Oregon is home to a massive 845-megawatt wind farm under development called Shepherds Flat, which will encompass about 30 square miles around the Arlington area. The turbines are being supplied by General Electric.

In October, Texas completed a 781.5-megawatt wind project operating over 100,00 acres spread throughout four counties. Instead of being located in one specific location, the wind turbines are spread throughout farmland and ranches, among other places, leased from over 300 participating landowners. It employs a total of 627 turbines made by several different companies including Mitsubishi, GE, and Siemens.