California Planners Mulling Giant Wind-Power Project

Pacific Renewable Energy wants to put windmills near Tranquillon Mountain.

LOMPOC, Calif. (AP) - Eighty giant windmills planned on mountain ridges south of the city would supply enough electricity to power much of northern Santa Barbara County.

The proposal for the first wind farm on the Central Coast is being reviewed by county planners.

Six ranching families with 3,000 acres in the hills are leasing pastureland to Pacific Renewable Energy Generation LLC, a development company that wants to erect 60 to 80 windmills along the rugged ridge lines east of Tranquillon Mountain.

''There are very few places in the U.S. where there is enough wind to build a wind farm. We've analyzed the wind here for four years, and we feel it's adequate,'' Pacific Renewable agent John Stahl said.

''It's very much like other energy sources,'' Stahl added. ''Coal is only where you find it. Wind is only where it blows enough.''

The wind project could provide up to 120 megawatts of electricity for the Pacific Gas & Electric Co. That's enough for up to 50,000 homes, or about 80 percent of the North County. The power would go directly into the local grid.

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