TARGET 080227

Blowin' in the Wind


Right click and select "view image" to enlarge the picture.

The Tehachapi Wind Farm, with around 5,000 wind turbines, is the second largest collection of wind generators in the world (the largest is at the Altamont pass, near Livermore and the San Francisco Bay area), but is now the largest wind power array in the world in output. The turbines are operated by a dozen private companies, and collectively produce about 800 million kilowatt-hours of electricity, enough to meet the residential needs of 350,000 people every year. With over 15,000 turbines in the state (7,000 at Altamont and 3,000 at San Gorgonio Pass, near Palm Springs), wind power in California makes up about 1% of California's electricity.

Public roads pass through the wind farm, as does the Pacific Crest Hiking Trail. Visible from both sides of Route 58, west of Mojave, and east of Tehachapi.

The east and south area of the Tehachapi Pass has one of California's larger Wind farms, generating electricity. The turbines have been in place since the early 1980s and have been upgraded through the years.

In a recent move, Southern California Edison plans to secure 1,500 megawatts (MW) or more of power generated from new projects to be built in the Tehachapi area. The 2006 contract, which more than doubles SCE’s wind energy portfolio, envisions more than 50 square miles of wind parks in the Tehachapi region, which is triple the size of any existing U.S. wind farm.[1]

From the road

The original wind turbines were much smaller than the much taller and larger new version turbines now in use. The newer models put out 3 times as much power as the old ones. They are easily seen from State Route 58 and from Tehachapi-Willow Springs Road.

Tehachapi today

The Tehachapi wind farm today

If you have only seen a wind farm from the road, you have been subjected to two optical illusions: The first is the apparent size vs. the real size. The following pictues show the real size as compared to the personnel who work on the turbines:

Training time
Men atop the tower

You can see the man atop the tower if you look closely.

From the top

Here's how it looks to him

The other optical illusion concerns the spinning blades. The blades are fixed in place and all turn together, as in the model shown here:

spinning blades

But to the eye, each blade appears to slow down and speed up in relation to each other as the propellor turns. This optical illusion is accentuated if you stand below the blades and see them from an angle, as in the video clip, below:

Feedback Map

For more information and links to even more, click

Center for Land Use web site
Windfarms in California