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Officials celebrate next phase of wind project

GRADY - Local elected officials, community leaders and representatives of Pattern Development celebrated the beginning of the next phase of eastern New Mexico wind energy during a ceremony on Thursday.

"We're here today to kind of celebrate the mobilization of construction and all the activity that again is about to start here over the next 12 months as we work towards making this project a commercial wind farm," said Senior Developer for Pattern Development Ward Marshall.

Facility Manager Ben Givens said construction on the new Grady wind project will begin over the next two to three weeks and the turbine components are expected to start arriving in January.

Givens said the new Grady Wind Farm is scheduled to be operational by mid-May of 2019, though that could change based off several different factors.

The new Grady wind facility will be a 550 MW wind farm with 84 turbines. With the existing Broadview facility, that brings the total number of turbines in the area to 225, according to Givens.

Givens said he expects there to be around 350 people on site each day during construction and around eight full-time jobs after construction is completed in order to provide maintenance work.

Curry County Commissioner Robert Thornton was one of several speakers at Thursday's event who praised the project for its economic benefits.

"This wind farm is a great addition to our community and we thank them for coming to our area and the many contributions they make to our economy," Thornton said.

Curry County Manager Lance Pyle said the county will receive $4.5 million over 30 years, to be spent only in the Grady area, in the form of payment in lieu of taxes from Pattern. Pyle said the money will be split evenly between the road maintenance and fire and law enforcement services.

Pyle said Pattern also donated $30,000 to the new Broadview Fire Station.

Several speakers at Thursday's event praised landowners in the area for playing a crucial role in getting the area's wind farms off the ground.

"They really spearheaded the movement of getting someone to come in and develop wind in the area," Givens said.

The Grady and Broadview facilities are among several efforts statewide to decrease reliance on oil and gas. Sen. Pat Woods (R-Broadview) said by 2050 the state will be 70 percent renewable energy.

With no shortage of wind throughout eastern New Mexico, Thornton was one of multiple speakers who expressed gratitude for the technological innovations that turn the natural resource into electricity.

"Wind is a big part of our community whether it's a slight breeze on a hot day or a tie-your-hat-on New Mexico ripper," Thornton said. "We now have a resource that we're blessed with and the wind is something that we've always had and always will have."

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