Wind plant construction set for May

By Tony Parra

Construction on a new wind power plant with 120 wind turbines will begin in May, according to Jan Paulin, Padoma Wind Power president.
Xcel Energy Inc. contracted with Padoma Wind Power LLC of La Jolla, Calif., to purchase all the electricity from Padoma’s planned “San Juan Mesa Wind Project” near Elida for its first 20 years of operation.
Paulin said the power project purchase agreement is one fundamental element and without it money can’t be invested. Paulin said the plan is to use Industrial Revenue Bonds driven by private funding.
Bonds are on the agenda for Tuesday’s Roosevelt County Commission meeting.
Construction activities of the San Juan Mesa facility will begin in May on the 120-megawatt facility. The project is near Elida, 65 miles northeast of Roswell on the Chavez and Roosevelt County lines. The majority of the project will be in Roosevelt County.
According to a press release, the wind turbine farm is set to be online by the end of the year.
Paulin estimated the final costs of the project, which will employ wind turbines manufactured by Mitsubishi, will exceed $150 million. Paulin said there will be approximately 200 jobs during the construction phase.
“We are still in the process of negotiating a subcontract with a couple of candidates,” Paulin said. “A decision is expected by the end of month.”
Padoma Wind Power officials were deciding between using Japanese Mitsubishi wind turbines from Japan or Vestas wind turbines from Denmark. Paulin said the Mitsubishi turbines are smaller (one megawatt capacity per turbine) while the Vestas turbines are larger (1.8 MW capacity per turbine).
“More turbines will be used,” Paulin said about choosing the Mitsubishi models. “The project will generate approximately the same amount of power regardless of turbine make and model.”
The 120-megawatt wind-powered facility will provide enough power for the average annual needs of about 41,600 homes, said Gary L. Gibson, Xcel Energy state vice president, in a press release.
Paulin said, “We’re committed to making the San Juan Mesa Project a model for future wind farm development, and excited that we’ll be producing clean, renewable power in New Mexico.”
Xcel Energy also purchases wind energy from a 1.98-MW wind facility near Texico and from 60 one-MW turbines near Tucumcari.
The rise in oil costs is now making wind energy costs comparable to the other energy producing sources. At today’s average wholesale prices, wind costs 4.2 cents per kilowatt hour, compared with 4 cents for coal, 6.8 cents for natural gas, 9.1 cents for oil and 10 cents for nuclear power, according to a study from the Rocky Mountain Institute research group.
“The San Juan Mesa Wind Project will likely supply energy to all of our customers,” Bill Crenshaw, Xcel Energy corporate communications manager, said. “There are about one million people in our service territory — a 52,000 square-mile service, comprised of eastern New Mexico, the south plains and panhandle of Texas, the Oklahoma panhandle and southwestern Kansas.