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

Wind farm focus at luncheon

 

November 24, 2019



PORTALES — By the end of 2020, Roosevelt County is expected to be home to New Mexico’s largest wind farm.

Sagamore Wind Farm officially broke ground Monday. Representatives from Xcel energy on Thursday spent an hour explaining the process of constructing a wind farm of this scale to community members attending the Roosevelt County Chamber of Commerce luncheon.

The project, located east of Dora, will cost an estimated $900 million and provide $131.5 million in state and local benefits, as well as $43 million in gross receipts tax, said Xcel Project Manager Brian Hudson.

“This project has been going on for three years publicly and even longer behind the scenes,” Hudson said. “It was touch and go for a long time. We had to arrange an interconnect agreement with the southwest power pool and that process is supposed to take nine months, but will take three years at the end of the day.

“I’ve been told this only had a 10 percent chance of going through about six months ago, but three months ago we were ready to pull the trigger and go forward with it.”

The 100,000-acre wind farm will be home to 240 turbines. The facilities are designed to supply power to roughly 194,000 average-size homes for the next 25 to 30 years.

The construction project is headed by Wanzek Construction and will employ over 400 workers over the year. Once the project is complete, officials expect there will be 20-30 fulltime employees manning the site.

Hudson explained the basics of how a wind farm works during the meeting, while Senior Siting and Land Agent Bryant Coon helped explain how the system is assembled.

Wind turns the turbines to create electricity, which is run through cables down a tower and underground to collector substations that up the voltage before the electricity is sent through transmission lines to the grid.

The turbines are provided by Vestas, a Denmark company that provides wind turbines globally. Each turbine is 470 feet tall from the base of the tower to the tip of the wind blade. Each blade is over 200 feet long, while the tower is roughly 300 feet. Technicians need to climb a single contiguous ladder to reach the top, but each tower is equipped with a climb assist system to help with the climb.

Each of the 240 wind turbines to be constructed on site will require 390 cubic yards of concrete, which Xcel estimates will amount to roughly 700 to 750 tons of concrete poured over 25 tons of rebar per tower.

The towers come in several sections and each component weighs so much that they can’t be bolted on because bolts would not be able to handle the strain. Instead each part of the tower is magnetized to the point it would require 500 pounds of force to remove.

To transport components and equipment, Xcel will need to create 70 miles of access road on the wind farm and has entered an agreement with Roosevelt County to help maintain the roads used to transport materials to the site, which will need to be altered and maintained to handle the increased traffic and large loads.

There will be over 3 million feet of cable laid throughout the project connecting the towers to two substations that up the voltage to send to the main power grid.

Hudson said the public is invited to visit the site during construction to observe the process or to discuss the project, but said Xcel requests all visitors first visit the offices to receive proper safety equipment.

The offices are on Highway 114, about 8.5 miles east of Dora.

Hudson said the best time to visit would likely be after the new year when construction starts ramping up.

Ongoing updates on the project can be found online at:

xcelenergy.com/sagamore

 
 

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