Wind farm headed to Tucumcari

Angela Peacock

Taking advantage of New Mexico’s most abundant natural resource — the wind — Caprock Wind, LP announced its plans Tuesday to install up to 80 wind-driven turbine generators near Tucumcari.
The wind farm, which will be located about 20 miles southeast of Tucumcari, is the second of its kind for Quay County. The county’s other wind farm is near House.
County Manager Paula Chacon said she couldn’t be more pleased with Tuesday’s news.
“Right now the agriculturists and livestock producers in our county are suffering because of the recent drought so installing another wind farm is great for the residents of Quay County,” Chacon said. “The wind farm will increase the county tax base, and bring added revenue for the county by creating more jobs, which in turn will boost the county’s economy both during and after construction.”
Officials said they expect construction of the wind turbines to last about five months. Construction will begin in the spring.
Company officials are already collecting regional data about wind direction and speed.
Cielo Wind Power, an affiliate of Caprock Wind, LP, will hire an estimated 100 workers during the construction phase of the project. It will employ six to eight permanent positions once the project is complete, Cielo Wind Power spokesperson Judy Carroll said. She said the wind farm is expected to be operating commercially by September 2004.
“The wind resource is very good in this area and the fact that it doesn’t require water to operate is very important to the area,” Carroll said.
After construction is complete, Xcel Energy — which provides electricity to more than 400,000 accounts across eastern New Mexico, Texas, Oklahoma and Kansas — will purchase all of the electricity generated by the ranch’s turbines for at least 15 years, Xcel Energy spokesperson Bill Crenshaw said.
The wind-powered turbine generators that will be used at the ranch will rotate into shifting winds from atop tubular-steel towers over 200 feet tall, Xcel officials said. Three blades, each an estimated 100 feet long, will drive each turbine, generating electricity when winds blow between 8 and 60 mph. Under normal conditions, the planned facility could generate about 245,000 megawatt-hours of power each year, estimated Walter Hornaday, Caprock Wind, LP president.
Xcel officials said in a press release that amount of power would provide sufficient electricity to serve the year-round average needs for about 26,600 homes.
“Generation from wind is particularly attractive in this region because of the strength of winds here and because wind generation compared to generation at conventional power plants conserves water, which is particularly important in this area,” Hornaday said.
“The cooperation of landowners and Quay County officials is another driving force in developing a successful wind project in Quay County.”