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Local government officials celebrate the first wind farm built along the California coast

The first wind farm on the California Coast was built in Lompoc.
Kim Foster
The first wind farm on the California Coast was built in Lompoc.

Government officials were in Lompoc Thursday along with Executives from Baywa r.e., a German company that built the wind farm. They were there for a ribbon-cutting ceremony finishing the end of construction.

The Strauss Wind Farm is about three and a half miles southwest of Lompoc. It has 27 active turbines that generate enough electricity to power 36,000 homes in the region.

Santa Barbara County District supervisor, Joan Hartman talked with KCBX about how it feels to finally see the turbines dotting the hillside.

“This has had a lot of starts and obstacles and we just kept on with faith that it would be worked out, and to see it in operation is exhilarating. It's so gratifying,” Hartman said.

The site is largely automated with an AI bird tracking system that scans the skies to see if Golden Eagles are around the turbines. If the bird is detected heading toward one of its towers, the turbine is instructed to stop spinning.

Hartman said the energy produced by the wind turbines will help the Central Coast stay online.

“If parts of the grid go down, we're at the end of the PG&E line, so the electrons from this can keep Lompoc powered or you know, the Santa Ynez Valley where I live where we lose power a lot. So it's really important for resilience,” Hartman said.

The wind farm will generate an estimated $40 million in tax revenue during its 30 year life cycle and provide an annual income to ranchers who have leased land to the project.

Kim Foster Carlson is an award-winning broadcast journalist with decades of experience in radio and television news. She came to KCBX as a substitute announcer in 2021 after many years at stations such as KCBS, KGO and KQED. When she's not traveling, visiting her grown kids or hanging out with her dogs, you will likely find her in a swimming pool. She was a six-time division I All-American swimmer at Florida State University and Cal Poly, San Luis Obispo.
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