Wind Energy Production Hits New Record in California Last Week

Wind energy hits record peak in CaliforniaThe California Independent System Operator (Cal-ISO), the state’s grid operator, announced last Friday (Earth Day) that the state hit a record level of peak wind energy output last week of 2,432 megawatts, outpacing last year’s record of 1,915 MW. Peak refers to the amount of energy generation is available while demand is highest. Last week’s record peak comprised 5 percent of total demand.

The announcement came as part of Cal-ISO’s 2011 summer assignment. Due to what the report refers to as a “modest economic recovery,” summer peak demand is expected to increase 1.5 percent from last year’s 47,127 MW to 47,814MW.

The report credits the growth in wind energy generation to California’s Renewable Energy Portfolio Standard that mandates 33% total energy generation from renewables by 2020.

The state has approximately 7,300 MW of renewable energy currently online. After wind energy, geothermal is the primary source of renewable energy in California, followed by small hydro, biomass, solar, and biogas.

Most non-renewable energy generation (68 percent) comes from natural gas in California, with large hydro contributing 16 percent of total generation, and nuclear at 9 percent.

Sources and further reading:

Cal-ISO Assessment Report (pdf)
ClimateWire (subscription required)


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Thomas Schueneman
Thomas Schueneman
Tom is the founder and managing editor of and the PlanetWatch Group. His work appears in Triple Pundit, Slate, Cleantechnia, Planetsave, Earth911, and several other sustainability-focused publications. Tom is a member of the Society of Environmental Journalists.

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