Bonds OK’d for wind power plant

By Tony Parra: PNT Staff Writer

Roosevelt County Commissioners gave final authorization of bonds for the wind power plant outside of Elida, which will bring electricity to Excel customers in eastern New Mexico, west Texas and Oklahoma.

The commissioners unanimously approved the authorization, 5-0, on Tuesday during the county meeting.

Construction has already started on the $160 million San Juan Mesa wind power plant. Padoma Wind Power company of La Jolla, Calif is constructing the San Juan Mesa power plant. The bonds are to be paid off by private investors over a 20-year span by 2025.

Roosevelt County Attorney Randy Knudson said the county is not liable for the project and there is no financial responsibility to the project if it should fail.

The benefit to the county in the agreement will be that it will generate $2.717 million in revenue to the county over the next 20 years, according to the agreement documents. The Elida School District would also receive $4.584 million over the next 20 years. The first payment of $167,500 to the Elida School District is scheduled for Feb. 28 followed by $167,500 on Sept. 1.

“It allows us to do more capital projects, to have better facilities and provide better education opportunities,” Elida Schools Principal Jack Burch said.

Burch said he’s had discussions with school board members on the money, but only preliminary until authorization was final.

Burch said the next step is to receive feedback from school board members, staff and the community on possible projects. Burch said these discussions to determine where the most need is at will more than likely take place in October through public meetings.

Asked whether the school district would be hurt by the new revenue in requesting money from the Public Schools Facility Authority of the New Mexico Public Education Department, Burch anticipates the school may not receive money from the PSFA, but for a different reason.

Burch said the school is newer, having received money from the PSFA for renovation of the high school gymnasium and the construction of a new multipurpose building. He said this is the main reason why the school may be moved down on the priority list.

Burch said the multipurpose building, which will have a synthetic floor for physical education classes and team practices will also have a stage for theater productions. Elida Schools representatives received $560,000 for the building from the PSFA.

The LCI-2 company of Clovis is working on the construction and Burch is hopeful the building will be completed by February.

The benefit to the investors of the San Juan Mesa Project would be that they would not have to pay the property taxes each year which would be comparable to the annual payments to the school district. The investors would also not have to pay gross receipt taxes on construction expenses.

“We’ve come full circle in the proposed project by Padoma Wind Power,” Knudson said. “This is the final action which allows the commission to authorize the project.”

The San Juan Mesa Wind Project plant with 120 wind turbines will be a 120-megawatt facility, located mostly in Roosevelt County with some of it in Chavez County. The Japanese-manufactured Mitsubishi wind turbines will provide enough power for the average annual needs of about 41,600 homes in eastern New Mexico, west Texas and Oklahoma, Xcel Energy vice president Gary L. Gibson said in a press release.