The Latigo Wind Farm, the largest private construction project in San Juan County history, is taking shape just north of Monticello city limits.
More than 100 workers are on-site, working on an estimated $125 million project to construct 27 massive wind turbines.
Crews are making progress, and the first wind turbine will be erected in coming days. The first tower to be erected is at the highest (and most westerly) point of the wind park, at an altitude of 7,985 feet.
sPower Corporation owns the project, with a 20-year power purchase agreement through PacificCorp. The wind park is entirely on private land.
The local landowners retain ownership of their land, including the grazing, farming and hunting rights. The landowners leased the property for the towers to sPower and will receive lease payments for the 20-year life of the project.
The list of landowners includes multi-generation families that have been in San Juan County for decades, including the Redds, the Scorups, the Daltons, and the Jones families.
Project officials discount the sentiment that the project will never pay for itself. They state that the wind farm will produce enough electricity for 60,000 people.
“We have ten years of data that prove the resource,” said Rob Adams, a vice president at sPower. “This project makes sense and will produce power for 20 years. It is domestic production of power, it is an entirely renewable resource, and no fuel is consumed.”
Adams states that the only government incentive in the project is a ten percent capital investment credit. The project will receive an estimated $12.5 million tax credit, in exchange for its $125 million expenditure.
“There are still 30 percent credits for solar projects,” said Adams, “but ten percent is the credit for wind projects.”
The Latigo Wind Park is the fourth major wind project in Utah. Other projects are located at Milford, Spanish Fork Canyon, and Tooele.
The wind park covers 3,600 acres of ground north and west of Monticello. The turbines will be in three lines and the majority of the towers will be in sight of Monticello.
Flashing lights will be placed on the top of the hub of 14 of the towers. Each of the hubs are 80 meters off of the ground and the rotor has a 116-meter diameter.
The construction effort is a massive undertaking. Each of the 27 towers is built on a large foundation with tons of re-bar and more than 400 yards of concrete per tower.
Components for the massive towers are arriving from throughout the United States, including major equipment from Florida, North Dakota, Iowa, and California. The majority of the components will travel through Monticello on the way to the wind park.
In addition to the towers, the Concho Substation is also under construction at the wind park. A second substation is under construction near the Monticello Port of Entry.
Workers for the project are coming from throughout the United States. The project has created a short-term housing challenge in San Juan County, with rentals full, restaurants busy, and motels and RV parks at capacity.
Crowley Construction and Sonderegger Inc. are two local companies that have significant contracts for the project. Sonderegger Inc. is providing all of the concrete for the towers and the substation.
Crowley Construction is doing all the dirt moving, including road construction and excavation at the tower sites. After the towers are constructed, there will be significant reclamation work. According to sPower, the ground surrounding the towers will be returned to its natural state as much as possible.
The construction phase of the project is scheduled to be complete before the end of the year. After the hundreds of workers have returned to their homes, there will be just three full-time employees at the wind farm.
Operations at the project will be under the direction of General Electric (GE). The Latigo Wind Park will be remotely monitored through GE’s worldwide control center in Schenectady, NY.
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