By ANTHONY A. MESTAS
THE PUEBLO CHIEFTAIN
SPRINGFIELD – A local energy group has received an $80,000 grant to install test towers for a proposed wind farm in Baca County.
A group called Baca Green Energy, which consists of local farmers and landowners, is trying to establish a wind farm near Springfield. The group is hoping to build a large wind farm of 100 or more generators.
Mike Bennett, rural development state director, recently presented Southeast Colorado Resource Conservation and Development a grant award check for $80,115.
Matt Heimerich, chairman of the Southeast Colorado RC&D Council and a Crowley County commissioner, said RC&D was pleased to partner with Baca Green Energy in its efforts to establish a wind farm. The grant will be used to purchase and install four meteorological towers that will gather wind data.
Fred Hefley, a spokesman for Baca Green Energy, said getting anemometers in place to collect specific on-site wind data is the first step toward building a wind farm.
The data collected from the towers is sent to wind energy developers to see if they can entice someone to construct a wind farm in the tested area.
Baca Green Energy was formed in 2003 with the mission of developing and operating a wind energy company in Baca County. The group is 28 members strong, and comprised of local county stakeholders. Hefley said the contractor will be installing the meteorological towers this month.
Strong winds in the flat, dusty southeast region have become the area’s best friend.
The Colorado Green Wind Power Project is the fifth largest wind farm in the nation and the largest in the state, spanning across 11,840 acres of grasslands between Lamar and Springfield.
The wind farm, which is jointly owned by PPM Energy and Shell WindEnergy Inc., is located 23 miles south of Lamar.
With 108 wind turbines on line, the Colorado Green Wind Project at full power will generate enough power to serve the energy needs of about 52,000 homes and businesses. In May, PPM Energy, ScottishPower’s competitive U.S. energy business, announced it would begin construction this fall on the 75-megawatt Twin Buttes Wind Power Project west of Lamar in the southeast corner of Bent County.
PPM officials did not have an exact date for the beginning of construction, but have said the company will begin building roads and pouring foundations for the project in the fall. Turbines will be delivered and erected sometime in the spring, officials said.
Construction is scheduled for completion by the end of 2007.
The Twin Buttes project will run adjacent to the Colorado Green Wind Power project.
“There is a lot of wind energy potential in the Eastern Plains of our state – Prowers and Baca County have great wind potential, it’s pretty windy and it’s consistent wind” Heimerich said.
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