Nambe Pueblo is teaming with a newly formed alternative energy company to study the idea of building a wind energy farm on pueblo land that would have more capacity than wind farms now operating in New Mexico.
The proposed wind farm would allow the pueblo to provide its members with electricity and sell the excess to utilities.
The project’s land lease and royalties would create a steady source of nongaming revenue, said officials from the pueblo and the 2-month-old Green Energy Wind LLC.
“I think it is a good project,” said pueblo council member Herbert Yates. “I just don’t know if we have enough wind to make it work. I’d like to look at solar as well.”
As envisioned, the wind farm would have 99 towers, each 300 feet tall, with three-blade turbines that could produce 3.5 megawatts of electricity. The overall farm would be capable of producing up to 300 megawatts of electricity, enough for 14,000 homes and businesses a year.
The state’s largest wind farm, the New Mexico Wind Energy Center near Fort Sumner, has 136 turbines that produce up to 200 megawatts of electricity, which is bought by Public Service Company of New Mexico.
Michael McDiarmid, head of the wind power program for the state Energy, Minerals and Natural Resources Department, said the four commercial wind-energy farms in New Mexico can produce a total of 497 megawatts at full capacity.
Green Energy Wind partner and development director Henry Herman, a former technology director at Pojoaque Valley schools, said the project is one of several wind farms the company plans to build in New Mexico and nearby states.
The Nambe Pueblo Council has approved construction of a 197-foot tower by Green Energy Wind to gather data on wind speeds and wind consistency over the next year.
Herman said he will use the information to build a case for the wind farm.
Preliminary data indicate winds across the pueblo average more than 13 to 15 mph, which the industry classifies as low-speed Class 4 winds, Herman said. A minimum annual average of 12 mph, or Class 3 winds, is needed for investors to take an interest in a wind farm, he said.
Green Energy Wind’s managing director, Gary P. Miller, said that if wind speeds make the project viable, he will have to find $300 million to $700 million in investment capital for the wind farm.
Andrew Martinez, project manager for the Nambe Pueblo Housing Entity, is excited about the wind farm’s possibilities for one of the entity’s latest plans – a 43-lot subdivision that will feature energy-efficient homes.
Creating a renewable power source on the pueblo with excess energy to sell is a win-win situation, he said.
“If this works, this community could go without ever having another utility bill,” Martinez said.
Jerry Mascarenas, general manager of the Jemez Mountains Electric Cooperative, said it is one of the companies discussing buying electricity with the pueblo and Green Energy Wind. The cooperative now buys electricity from Tri-State Generation and Transmission in Denver for its 30,000 customers that range from Española to Cuba, he said.
20 December 2007
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