Wind farm powering region with electricity

By Tony Parra, Freedom Newspapers

Some aspects of operating the 120-megawatt wind farm can be as easy as doing it from a personal computer at home, that is if you are authorized and have a password from Edison Mission Group.

Members of the Edison Mission Group held an open house at the San Juan Mesa wind farm Friday with commissioners from Roosevelt and Chavez counties, Portales city councilors and Elida school officials on hand taking a tour of the facility.

Bruce Linsten, Edison Mission operation and maintenance manager, said he and another maintenance employee will perform the maintenance of the electrical and other plant equipment, except for the wind turbines.

“The wind turbines can be reset through a remote device,” Linsten said. “People all over the world can control the output. Mitsubishi workers in Japan or Edison Mission Group employees from Irvine, Calif. (headquarters) can operate it with an Internet hookup.”

The switch was turned on in late December on the San Juan Mesa wind farm in late December. Edison Mission Group representatives purchased the wind plant from Padoma Wind Power officials (who constructed the power plant) of La Jolla, Calif., and they are selling it to Xcel Energy, which uses the electricity to power homes in eastern New Mexico, West Texas and Oklahoma.

“I want to thank everyone for joining us to officially dedicate this project, which began selling electricity to Excel Energy in December,” Ted Craver, chief executive officer for Edison Mission Energy, said. “We entered the wind energy business in 1998 with investments in Iowa and Minnesota. 2005 was a real breakthrough year for us in the renewable business, highlighted by our acquisition of San Juan Mesa.”

Linsten said 10 Mitsubishi employees are working at the wind farm and they keep up with the maintenance of the 120 wind turbines. Linsten said they check tower torque, power and they grease and oil the turbines. They check the turbines every day, according to Linsten.

Linsten said the electricity is sent west of Elida to an Xcel grid where it is distributed throughout their network. Linsten said wind energy can’t be stored. The amount of wind energy sent to the Xcel grid depends on how much energy derived from coal and natural gas Xcel is distributing to its customers.

“We want to be the leader in wind energy production,” Patrick Lyons, New Mexico commissioner of public lands, said. “Oil is now over $72 a barrel. We are promoting wind energy.”

The San Juan Mesa wind plant is the largest acquisition by the Edison Mission Group, according to Craver.

Craver said Edison Mission Energy members will be celebrating the groundbreaking today in Wildorado, Texas, 10 miles west of Amarillo, on a new wind plant which will surpass the San Juan Mesa wind plant in power generated. Craver said the 161-megawatt facility will have Siemens wind turbines which can produce between 2.4 to 2.6 megawatts.