A wind generating company says it will be ready to start construction on a wind farm south of Willard in the spring.
But first, managers of the High Lonesome Wind Ranch LLC plan to submit today to the Torrance County Planning and Zoning Commission an application for a zoning ordinance for a special use district for the farm.
“We’re ready to put our application in. We had to pull together lots of pieces. These are complex projects,” said Amy LeGere, Foresight Wind Energy regional development manager.
The wind project is about nine miles south of Willard on private land on Mesa de los Jumanos and is being developed by High Lonesome Wind Ranch LLC, a partnership of Foresight Wind, Karbon Zero and Edison Mission Group.
While other wind companies have constructed meteorological, or MET, towers to assess available wind in the area, HLWR would be Torrance County’s first wind project, LeGere said.
Construction of the wind energy generation facility may begin as early as April and would bring about 200 temporary jobs to the area. The final project would create about 10 permanent high-tech and high-paying jobs, LeGere said.
“Project financing is in place. … We’re negotiating a 30-year power sale contract with a regional utility,” LeGere said. The price of that power would be fixed or “locked in,” not like the “volatility of fuel markets,” LeGere said.
There would be 40, 2.5-megawatt turbines generating a total of about 100 megawatts of electricity— enough to supply power to about 30,000 homes. The wind turbines— measuring about 15 to 20 feet in diameter— would be built on five square miles of private land owned by Goemmer Land & Livestock Co.
“The 40 turbines will span approximately five miles,” said Ednen Hindi, Karbon Zero director of projects.
Along with wind assessment studies, HLWR has performed cultural studies and studied the paths of raptors, bats and small birds in the area.
“Because modern wind turbines turn slower and are on steel towers,” they are less likely to kill birds, and modern steel towers are less suitable for building nests than older, lattice towers, LeGere said.
HLWR would build an operations and maintenance building, and a collection substation on the mesa for the facility, LeGere said.
The project proposal has been presented to Torrance County Commission, county Planning and Zoning and the Village of Willard by HLWR, LeGere said.
County Manager Joy Ansley said the county plans to work with HLWR on applying for industrial revenue bonds.
Because the county has tax exempt status, the bonds are “a way of giving a tax benefit to a company or a project,” LeGere said.
At the Jan. 9 Torrance County Commission meeting, Jimmy Corliss, who lives close to the wind energy generation facility site, told commissioners he would like to close about three miles of Corliss Road East, a road accessing the area.
After the meeting, Corliss said he planned to ask area residents to sign a petition supporting the closure because trucks from the wind company are “tearing up the countryside and we’re not getting compensated for it.”
Ansley said the matter will not be on the commission agenda until February.
HLWR said they have met with Corliss and are designing a new road to access the site on the mesa, LeGere said.
By Laura Nesbitt
24 January 2008
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