New life has been injected into an effort to build an immense wind farm in Torrance County that eventually could provide electrical power a few hundred thousand homes and create hundreds of jobs.
The State Land Office announced this week that it soon will be accepting bids to lease nearly 34,000 acres of land – more than 52 square miles – to build the wind farm about 12.5 miles northeast of Willard and west of Encino. It includes 5,400 acres – mostly in Torrance County with some spillover into Santa Fe and San Miguel counties – for a transmission route from the site.
Known as El Cabo, the wind farm would be the largest in New Mexico and would include 87,000 acres of private property in addition to the state land.
A public auction is set for 11 a.m. Sept. 19 at the Torrance County courthouse, 903 5th St., in Estancia.
For years now, a private company, Iberdrola Renewables, has been working to develop El Cabo. The state land would comprise only about 20 percent of the overall project, said Don Britt, assistant commissioner for the State Land Office’s Commercial Resources Division.
State Land Commissioner Ray Powell said Iberdrola, a Spanish company with U.S. headquarters in Portland, Ore., has wanted state lands brought into the project area. Enough has been accomplished that the time to go out to public bid has come, he said.
“The proposed El Cabo project ultimately could generate 1,000 megawatts of electricity – enough electricity to supply up to 400,000 homes,” said a statement released by Powell’s office. “The project would be built in several phases over the next 10 years, creating 1,600 construction jobs and over 250 permanent positions.”
Powell said the figures pertain only to the state lands portion of the project.
The state land would be leased only as a single tract for 45 years. Lease rates would range from $2 to $3 per acre during the initial phase up to at least $12 per acre during the height of the operations phase.
Bidders must submit an application by Sept. 13 that includes a total deposit of $88,777. The opening bid will be $1,000. For more information, visit www.nmstatelands.org and click on Public Auction for Commercial Lease.