FAIRFIELD — A blue sky late last week perfectly backlit a series of monolithic wind turbines in the Montezuma Hills, their unmoving blades casting long shadows that shaded slumbering cattle.
The 26-story turbines, part of Solano's Shiloh II Wind Project, and the clean energy they produce, were the impetus for an hours-long visit Thursday by Congressman John Garamendi, D-Walnut Grove, who serves on the House Science and Technology Committee.
While in the county, he also opened an office in Fairfield and fielded questions at a town hall meeting in Suisun City.
The Shiloh II Wind Project is one of two wind-energy facilities built in California in 2008. It is a 150-megawatt project consisting of 75 turbines scattered across 6,100 acres of farmland that provides energy to 74,000 Pacific Gas and Electric clients each year.
Experts with enXco, the project's developers, peppered the congressman with information and statistics as he toured the area. And, he returned the favor.
After a tour of the interior of one of the Shiloh turbines, Garamendi asked enXco officials if the products used in the project were made or bought domestically.
The answer — somewhat.
"We've got to work on that," Garamendi countered.
"We either make them here, or we won't make them," he added of future turbines.
Though $50 million was spent locally, defined as within 100 miles of Solano, some funding did go to foreign-made
Garamendi also questioned the timeline for a build.
In the case of Shiloh, it took four years — a year longer than usual due to an issue with Travis Air Force Base that was eventually resolved. Construction, it seems, took just eight months.
Officials emphasized that the project is looked on favorably by the community, especially by the landowners who lease their land to support the turbines.
Not only is ample sustainable energy generated, said Mark Tholke, southwest regional director for enXco, but around 300 construction jobs were created during the build. The turbines reduce carbon dioxide emissions by an equivalent of almost 60,000 passenger vehicles, he said, and generate nearly $3 million in annual property tax revenues for Solano County.
A Shiloh III build is on the horizon, officials said.