Windfarms have been developed rapidly in California in the last few years. The impetus has been a legislated goal to generate 10% of California's electricity by windpower by the year 2000, and generous state and federal tax incentives. Windpower is promoted as environmentally benign, which it is in traditional uses. The California program, however, is not traditional: it calls for centralized development of a magnitude sufficient to offset significant amounts of fossil fuels now used to generate electricity. Centralized windfarm development, as exemplified by the Altamont Pass, Tehachapi Mountains, and San Gorgonio Pass developments, involves major road building projects in erosion-sensitive terrain, effective closure of public lands, and other detrimental effects. A windfarm consisting of 200 turbines with 17-m rotors located in steep terrain 16 km from an existing corridor might occupy 235 ha and physically disturb 86 ha. With average annual wind speeds of 22.5 km/h, the farm would generate about 10??106 kWh/year at present levels of capacity. This annual production would offset 1% of one day's consumption of oil in California. To supply 10% of the state's electricity (at 1984 production rates) would require about 600,000 turbines of the type in common use today and would occupy more than 685,000 ha. It is likely that indirect effects would be felt in much larger areas and would include increased air and water pollution resulting from accelerated erosion, degradation of habitat of domestic and wild animals, damage to archaeological sites, and reduction of scenic quality of now-remote areas of the state. ?? 1987 Springer-Verlag New York Inc.