Energy providers, legislators, leaning toward wind power

By Tony Parra

From energy providers to legislators to energy plant manufacturers, it seems that the consensus is that the United States is heading towards more energy being provided from clean energy providers.
Tracy Broeder, a wind technician for Florida Power and Light, talked about wind energy on Wednesday and how feasible it would be in the Portales area. Broeder said it was dependent on the amount of wind in Roosevelt County and the frequency of it. Broeder said FPL researchers work from a national map which shows the wind data.
Broeder said there are many other factors in regards to being able to place a wind energy farm in Roosevelt County. Broeder said someone needs to be willing to put it on their property and a main transmission line needs to be close to the wind farm. He said the property owner receives a percentage of the profit.
Jerry Partin, Roosevelt County Electric Cooperative manager, said there is a 345,000 volt transmission line from Muleshoe, Texas to Artesia which cuts across Roosevelt County. He also said there is a line west of Blackwater Draw Conversion station, which sits in Roosevelt County, next to the Curry County line.
Broeder also said a wind farm depends on the cost of connecting the farm to a transmission line.
Broeder also works as a wind technician at the New Mexico Wind Energy Center in House, which is located 20 miles northeast of Fort Sumner.
There are 136 General Electric wind turbines in the Energy Center. They produce 204 megawatts of electricity, which is enough for approximately 94,000 homes. He said one turbine could power the town of Melrose. Public Service Company of New Mexico (PNM) uses the FPL wind turbines to provide energy to its customers.
He said the wind turbines are 213 feet tall with three blades, each blade measuring more than 110 feet. According to Broeder, there is a generator inside the turbine with a computerized system monitoring the wind and shifting the blades in the direction the wind is coming from.
He said each wind turbine cost $1.5 million, but it only takes three to five years to pay off the cost. Broeder said the blades need only a 6 mph wind to begin producing energy.
Broeder said he wasn’t sure how wind energy compares when it comes to cost to coal, gas and nuclear.
“Wind energy is not a great producer of energy like coal plants,” Broeder said. “The windiest weather is in March. This year the wind has been really low. We have had a lot more water this year and a lot less wind.”
Broeder said one of the major advantages with wind energy is that it does not pollute the water or air.
Broeder said there is more demand for clean energy and more wind turbines will be popping up in New Mexico and Texas.
U.S. Sen. Jeff Bingaman said he would like to see more tax breaks for energy providers, such as PNM, for providing clean energy when he visited Portales on Oct. 13.