A Maryland company that wants to build a wind tower more than 2,000 feet tall in San Luis, Ariz., to create electricity is now proposing a similar project across the border.
Ronald Pickett, president of Solar Wind Energy Tower, said the firm proposes to build the tower on a 1,250-acre on the east side of San Luis Rio Colorado and generate electricity for sale to Mexico’s state-owned electricity utility.
Like the proposed tower in San Luis, Ariz., the tower would use water to cool hot and dry air, causing it to fall through its shaft in a powerful downdraft that would drive turbines, which, in turn, would generate the electricity.
In a news release issued in December, Solar Wind Energy said it was in the process of fulfilling requirements for the tower on the Mexican site, among them securing the necessary source of water needed in the energy generation process and finalizing agreements for sale of the power to Mexico’s Federal Commission of Electricity.
But Pickett said the Annapolis, Md.-based firm is no less committed to seeing completion of the San Luis, Ariz., tower, which would stand 2,250 feet in height on a site along County 24th Street between Avenues E and D. The city council recently rezoned the site to allow for the tower.
He said the company continues seeking investors for the Arizona tower as well as working to finalizing agreement for purchase of the electricity produced to be it.
He said Solar Wind Energy’s most recent gain came when the California Energy Commission issued a certificate confirming that electricity generated by the tower would meet the state’s Renewable Portfolio Standard, allowing sale of electricity in California and permitting the firm’s customers to receive renewable energy credits.
Pickett said the Mexico tower, like the one in San Luis, Ariz., is expected to create close to 2,000 temporary jobs in the construction phase and about 500 permanents jobs in the operation of the tower.
“The towers in Arizona and Mexico will be identical, which means a tremendous advantage for both the financing and the construction,” he said. “In Mexico, the tower will cost less than in Arizona, labor is less costly, and the process for getting local and state permits is also less costly.”
Carlos Mejia, director of the Mexican border city’s economic development commission, said the project would significantly benefit the local economy, through the creation of construction jobs, through purchases of water from the city to operate the tower and by attracting new industry that would use the electricity generated.
“Because of the quality of water they would buy, it would be a very big source of revenue for the city,” he said. “We have abundant water.”
The proposed site in San Luis Rio Colorado for the tower is already zoned for industrial use, he said, meaning rezoning would not be required.
Solar Wind Energy originally proposed to build two towers on Arizona side, supplying them with water brought by pipe from the Sea of Cortez. But faced with red tape in getting approval from the Mexican government for the pipeline and the potential cost of pumping, the company decided to seek the water from San Luis, Ariz.
The project was later scaled back to one tower because, San Luis officials said, the border city would be able to supply water for one but not two.
The Arizona tower would be ready for operation in 2018, according to the company’s timetable.
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