The Eastern New Mexico News - Serving Clovis, Portales and the Surrounding Communities

Officials tour wind farm

 

Jamie Cushman

Technician Mike Christensen, left, gives U.S. Sen. Martin Heinrich a tour of one of the substations at the Roosevelt Wind Farm on Thursday.

DORA — Wind was on the minds of some Roosevelt County residents on Thursday, but not because their hats were flying off.

Landowner Bill Rush touted the economic benefits that come from the energy-producing turbines on the Roosevelt Wind Farm and the planned Sagamore Wind Project, both south of Portales.

Rush thanked U.S. Sen. Martin Heinrich, D-New Mexico, for the role he played in the projects.

"Some parts of our state have beautiful scenery and therefore they have tourism and the income that comes from that," he told Heinrich.

"Other parts of the state have oil and gas and the income and the jobs that come with that.

"We don't have any of those here but we do have an abundance of wind and we get to live among some of the finest people in the world, so it is great that you have helped us develop a project such as this."

Heinrich said he has worked to develop renewable energy projects like Sagamore, so he appreciated the chance to see one of the wind farms in action.

"I've had an interest in renewable generation for a long time," Heinrich said. "I was able to really push for a long-term extension of the production tax credit a few years ago that really got a whole nother generation of these projects off the ground. So I wanted to see one actually in action - what it's going to mean for the local community in terms of tax base and jobs and what it's going to mean for the American grid."

Alan Davidson, the director of capital projects for Xcel Energy, said construction is expected to begin on the Sagamore Wind Project in June 2019 with the 522 megawatt site coming online in summer 2020.

He said the number of turbines has not been finalized yet, but will be somewhere between 240 and 261.

The wind farm will create up to 300 construction jobs while it's being built and 20 to 30 full-time jobs once it's operational, according to information provided by Xcel.

Heinrich said he sees a number of different ways the Sagamore Wind Project will benefit the communities of eastern New Mexico.

"It means local, high-quality jobs," Heinrich said. "It means a diversified income base for landowners and farmers. It means some certainty for the public schools. And those are all good things for the community and the country gets a clean source of power at a very reasonable rate."

Julia Kimmerly, the manager of renewable development for Invenergy, the company involved with the development of the project, said around 100 to 150 landowners will be affected.

Kimmerly said landowners have already been compensated and will continue to receive payments throughout the life of the project, currently budgeted for 25 years.

The Sagamore Wind Project will be located approximately 20 miles southeast of Portales on a 70,000 acre site adjacent to the Roosevelt Wind Farm.

Davidson and Shawn Johnson, the site manager for EDF, the owner of the Roosevelt Wind Farm, said the two wind farms will appear nearly identical to anyone driving by.

 

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