The numbers are staggering for a small New Mexico county, commissioners acknowledge. But they emphasize that the county is not liable for repayment of the $2.8 billion approved for industrial bonds connected to wind power projects.
At their December meeting, commissioners approved a resolution relating to the proposed taxable industrial revenue bonds for several series, listing the projects as Duran Mesa LLC, Tecolote Wind LLC and Red Cloud Wind LLC, and directing the county clerk to publish notice of the intent to consider ordinances authorizing issuance and sale of the bonds.
In a memorandum to the board, County Manager Nita Taylor wrote that Pattern Energy representatives proposed that the county acquire from the company a lease-hold interest in land and equipment in the county that will constitute an authorized project with up to 1,000 megawatts of generating capacity to be developed in one or more phases.
The resolution specifies that the county is not liable for the bonds or for financing of the project, and that passage does not result in a charge against its general credit or taxing powers.
In November, commissioners passed an inducement resolution expressing the intent to proceed with the issuance of bonds to be issued in one or more series.
“As required by the inducement resolution, the company must make payments in lieu of taxes based on the megawatt ….of installed electricity generating capacity of the project, to be allocated between and among the county, the Corona School District and the Carrizozo School District, as agreed upon by those parties,” Taylor wrote.
Commission Chairman Preston Stone asked how much money the bonds could produce.
“This is the second series of bonds for $1.4 billion, so we’re at $2.8 billion,” said County Attorney Alan Morel. “I can’t guarantee this is all. There is a lot of wind out there.
“I can’t say (they won’t) ask for more, but there is no risk to the county. Payment doesn’t fall to the county under any circumstances.”
Several ranchers and landowners in the northern part of the county around Corona stand to benefit financially from the wind projects.
Support for the projects has not been unanimous at times or without concerns from commissioners. Chairman Preston Stone warned that the character of the county will forever be altered once the turbines and transmission lines are installed.
Commissioner Tom Stewart backed officials at nearby military installations and their worry that the use of the sky over the county for training missions will be interrupted or degraded.
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