CONCHO – A company that bills itself as the world’s largest renewable energy provider is exploring the possibility of constructing a wind farm near Concho.
NextEra Energy Resources, of Juno Beach Fla., also owns Florida Power and Light, a power company with a portfolio of natural gas and nuclear generating operations, as well as utility-scale solar installations in Florida that serves 10 million customers. The company also owns 110 wind and solar installations in 29 states and in Canada.
The Fortune 200 company has $82.5 billion in assets and has been named the world’s most ethical company nine times, according to their website, and is a leader in reducing pollution emissions and renewable energy.
NextEra Energy has already developed a similar wind farm in Coconino County near Williams, called Perrin Ranch.
Bryan Garner, a spokesperson for the company, said NextEra Energy is in the early stages of exploring possibilities for constructing a Concho-area wind farm consisting of 50 turbines generating 100 megawatts of power – enough to provide electricity to 30,000 homes.
Garner said company representatives have been talking with area landowners and exploring possible connections to local utilities to see if the project is feasible.
The company, Garner said, looks at four criteria when seeking a new location for development, which include: A great wind resource, interested landowners, access to electrical transmission lines, and a customer such as a utility that will agree to purchase the power.
Garner said the wind resources in the area are excellent, and that the landowners the company has been in contact with have been receptive. Typically, the company leases the property on which the turbines are built from the landowner, who can still use the land surrounding the turbines for grazing or other agricultural activities.
“It’s a great supplement to the income of farmers and ranchers,” Garner said.
Garner did not specify which electrical utility company they are seeking as a buyer for the power, only that the company is “marketing the project to utilities.” He said they usually set up a long-term agreement, such as 20-30 years, with a utility that will buy the power. The Coconino County wind farm sells power to Arizona Public Service Co.
Garner also said his company has been in touch with Apache County concerning a conditional-use permit.
Wind farms bring several benefits to the communities where they are located, Garner said. During the initial construction phase, which lasts about nine months, as many as 200 construction jobs are created, he said. Once the wind farm is operational, seven to 12 employees are needed for management and maintenance, he explained.
Wind technicians – the individual who climb and maintain the turbines, is the fastest-growing occupational field in the country, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics.
The other important benefit to the county would come in the form of property tax income over the expected 30-year lifespan of a wind farm installation.
It can take several years in planning to develop a new wind installation, depending on how the four factors come together, Garner said. “These variables are all in play,” he said of the proposed Concho development
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