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Willacy County eyes road for new wind farm

RAYMONDVILLE – Willacy County commissioners today will discuss a plan to build a road near Los Portreros Road to accommodate a wind farm turbine site to be built by Duke Energy.

County Judge John F. Gonzales Jr. said the parallel road will protect homes on Los Portreros Road from dust and the hazards of passing trucks on the road near Santa Monica while the wind farm is being built and once it is in operation.

Precinct 4 Commissioner Dora Perez said there are two homes as well as a cemetery on Los Portreros Road.

“We just fixed that road,” she said. “They (Duke Energy) want to use it because it will take the weight of their trucks.”

Duke had previously offered to build a lateral, or parallel, road for its traffic to the turbine site and she wants an agreement to be placed on the record, Perez said.

Duke Energy plans to build its 202-megawatt Los Vientos II Windpower Project in Willacy County and sell the electricity and renewable energy credits it generates to Austin Energy through a 25-year agreement, the company said in a Sept. 20 statement.

“For Duke Energy, the Los Vientos II project will help us put an additional 770 megawatts of wind power into operation in 2012,” said Duke Energy Renewables President Greg Wolf. “This will bring Duke Energy’s total wind power capacity to nearly 1,800 megawatts – enough to power more than half a million homes.”

Duke Energy spokesman Greg Ethimou said Tuesday that it is not yet known how many wind turbines will be placed in the area of Los Portreros Road because Duke Energy is still negotiating with wind turbine manufactur-ers about which turbines will be purchased and what size each will be.

Perez said that the ranch cemetery on Los Portreros Road is in active use and there are some new graves on the site.

She said it is her understanding that Duke Energy plans to build an equivalent road for use of local residents and cemetery visitors. But she wants that agreement to be made clear during today’s meeting, she said.

Ethimou said in a Wednesday statement that no decisions have been made as to what land will be occupied by the wind turbine sites so it is premature to discuss building a replacement road.

A.L. Smith’s home is located along Los Portreros Road, as well as a rental property he owns, the commissioner said.

She said she hopes that Smith, other local residents and a Duke Energy representative will attend today’s meet-ing.

During the meeting, county commissioners will also discuss changing the name of County Road 1450 from Weed Road to El Naranjo Road.