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Gold rush for renewable energy in Antelope Valley

July 4, 2011 |  5:32 pm


Antelope Valley is betting big in renewable energy.

Two solar projects have already been approved for unincorporated Los Angeles County. Eight other renewable energy projects have been proposed. Of these, NextEra Energy Resources of Juno Beach, Fla. and Portland-based Element Power US, want to build facilities that would become the county's first utility-scale wind turbine facilities, towering hundreds of feet high.

"The western Antelope Valley boasts both the highest and most consistent winds in almost all of Southern California," said Nat Parker, project manager for Element Power's proposed Wildflower Green Energy Farm. "Between 4 p.m. and 7 p.m. the winds reach their highest peak, and it falls in line with when the electrical grid has highest demand."

Critics, though, say that erecting wind turbines atop ridges near homes would spoil views, cause noise and devalue properties. Faulty wind turbines could spark wildfires, and the machines' blades could obstruct firefighting aircraft and kill birds, they say.

County Supervisor Michael D. Antonovich, who represents the unincorporated Antelope Valley, said this region "has the potential to become the nation's leader in green, alternative energy innovation and production." But he emphasized that community support is key to the success of these projects.


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-- Ann Simmons

Photo: A view down a road in Portal Ridge shows some of the wide-open spaces that Antelope Valley residents fear would be marred by tall wind turbines that have been proposed. (Al Seib / Los Angeles Times)