Newer wind turbine
A newer wind turbine in Altamont Pass.

On the rolling hills of Altamont Pass, east of San Francisco, one of the country’s oldest wind farms has produced power for more than 30 years.

There, almost 1,500 old turbines were taken down in recent years. Only 82 new ones were installed in their place, but they produce about the same amount of electricity. Celeste Wanner is with the American Wind Energy Association.

Wanner: “The U.S. wind industry has seen significant advances in technology in just the last ten years. Using longer blades and taller towers makes the turbine able to access stronger, steadier winds.”

Wanner says that as technology improves, many old wind farms are upgrading their systems. Some simply replace components like rotors and blades. Others get new turbines altogether.

Wanner: “Doing these upgrades can really give new life to a wind farm and increase the annual energy production.”

She says these improvements have helped make wind power more affordable. And that’s helping the industry grow and add more clean energy to the grid. Over the past decade wind power generation in the U.S. has tripled.

Reporting credit: Sarah Kennedy/ChavoBart Digital Media.
Photo credit: By FlyinCameras Mike (CC BY-SA 4.0).

Bruce Lieberman, a long-time journalist, has covered climate change science, policy, and politics for nearly two decades. A newspaper reporter for 20 years, Bruce worked for The San Diego Union-Tribune...