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City utility turns green with energy

Going toward more renewable resources, investment in wind power comes with option to purchase windmill farm.

September 01, 2007|By Jeremy Oberstein

BURBANK — The City Council approved a 20-year agreement Tuesday to lease wind power from a Utah-based wind farm, pushing forward with the city’s effort to use more renewable energy.

The move follows a June 5 council resolution that set a goal of using 33% renewable energy by 2020 and follows a global shift toward using wind power.

“The public has elected policy makers that favor renewable energy and we are seeing more and more of that,” said Bill Mace, assistant general manager for Burbank Water and Power. “It’s what people want to do.”

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Under the agreement with the Southern California Public Power Authority, Burbank will share power generated from Milford Wind with the cities of Los Angeles and Pasadena. Los Angeles will receive 92.5%, Burbank 5% and Pasadena 2.5%. Burbank’s share is about 2.1 windmills. Starting Dec. 31, 2008, the 20-year term will include an option to purchase the facility 10 years through the term. Such a buyout might lower consumer rates, Burbank Water and Power officials said.

“Giving us a chance to own it could help bring costs down and get us toward our goal without harming rates,” said Fred Fletcher, assistant general manager for Burbank Water and Power.

Burbank’s move follows an international trend in which states and countries are increasingly turning toward wind to power homes and offices.

As of last year, worldwide wind energy output stood at 74,223 megawatts, according to the World Wind Energy Assn. Germany currently leads the global wind push, generating over 20,000 megawatts, while United States’ output stands at 11,603 megawatts.

“Between 1997 and 2006, we have seen a tenfold increase in installed capacity worldwide,” said Dr. Anile Kane, president of the World Wind Energy Assn.

“Wind energy technology continues to be the most dynamic energy source and wind is clearly emerging as the currently most promising solution to replace the most undesirable fossil fuel based electrical energy.”

Texas leads all states with 2,768 megawatts installed, California sitting a close second, having installed 2,361 megawatts.

“We haven’t seen this much [countrywide] growth in a couple of years,” said Susan Williams Sloan, communications specialist for American Wind Energy Assn.

Sloan noted that California’s environmentally friendly policies have served the state well.

“California has good wind resources,” Sloan said.

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