California’s two major utilities purchased 188 million kilowatt-hours of wind-generated electricity in 1984, according to the American Wind Energy Association. That’s enough to meet the needs of some 31,300 typical customers and more than four times the 46.5 million kilowatt-hours purchased by· the two companies in 1983. In 1982 the total was only 4.8 million and in 1981 it was just 0.1 million!
The trend toward distributed power production is nationwide and is changing the face of America’s electric industry, according to a report issued recently by the Worldwatch Institute. Some 785 small-scale, independent power projects — many employing technology that advance renewable energy development — have been built or planned in the past three years, says the Institute. Together the· projects will match the output of 14 large nuclear plants.
Construction of Hawaii’s largest wind turbine — a Danish-built unit rated at 340 kilowatts — has been completed on the island of Maui and plans are underway to install 15 larger generators on Oahu …. The Sacramento Municipal Utility District will build a $40 million, 5-megawatt photovoltaic generating facility near Rancho Seco, California. The plant is expected to be producing current by 1987 …. and in Red Boiling Springs, Tennessee, a 3-megawatt turbine fueled by sawdust will convert 100 tons of sawmill waste each day to produce power for the Tennessee Valley Authority.