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French firm purchases $322M wind farm project west of Vega  

Credit:  By Kevin Welch, Amarillo Globe-News, amarillo.com 18 January 2012 ~~

A planned wind farm just west of Vega with an estimated construction cost of about $300 million now belongs to a company with international energy holdings.

Austin-based Cielo Wind Power and enXco, owned by a French company but headquartered in San Diego, Calif., announced the sale Wednesday of the Spinning Spur Wind Ranch, to be located about 30 miles west of Amarillo.

“We sold 100 percent of our interest, but we will be the construction manager,” said Cielo president and CEO Walt Hornaday. “Unlike previous projects, we won’t have an ownership stake after it’s finished.”

Locally, Cielo developed and managed the construction of two other wind facilities in Oldham County and one in Carson County.

Spinning Spur will cover 28,420 acres with 70 Siemens turbines, each with a capacity rating of 2.3 megawatts for a total capacity of 161 megawatts.

A megawatt can power about 350 average Texas homes. However, the capacity rating represents the power that could be produced if a wind farm ran full speed all day every day.

While terms of the sale are private, the project construction cost should be about $2 million per megawatt, or $322 million.

“That’s installed and includes the turbines, transportation, legal fees, rights of way, foundations, roads, everything,” said Ken Starcher, associate director for training, education and outreach at West Texas A&M University’s Alternative Energy Institute. “Turbines themselves are one-third to half of that.”

Landowner fees could top $1 million during construction, he said.

The purchaser, enXco, plans to start construction in June and finish by December, according to a news release. Wanzek Construction, the South Dakota company that recently completed the smaller, nearby Golden Spread Panhandle Wind Ranch, using about 120 workers at any one time, will be the contractor.

The timeline for the wind farm’s completion is ambitious but not impossible.

“One megawatt per day is a rule of thumb,” Starcher said. “That’s accelerated construction.”

There are incentives to keep on schedule.

“We’ve done projects on a quicker timeline before,” Hornaday said.

“Our preference would be to have more time, but it’s a firm deadline with federal incentives expiring Dec. 31.”

Southwestern Public Service has contracted to purchase power from the wind facility.

The utility has about 1,000 megawatts of wind energy available now.

The French parent of enXco, EDF, has wind, nuclear, biomass, hydropower and conventional fossil-fuel facilities in 13 countries in Europe and North America, according to the company website. This will be its first in Texas.

“After having evaluated this significant wind market on previous occasions, we believe now is the right time to enter the Texas market and Spinning Spur provides a perfect opportunity,” said Tristan Grimbert, president & CEO of enXco.

Source:  By Kevin Welch, Amarillo Globe-News, amarillo.com 18 January 2012

This article is the work of the source indicated. Any opinions expressed in it are not necessarily those of National Wind Watch.

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