Utility Scale Wind Power Arrives in New Mexico

May 5, 2003

Photos and text by Ben Luce, president, NMSEA

As can be seen in the photos below, FPL Energy is now well along in constructing a 204 megawatt wind farm on New Mexico’s Eastern Plains, near the town of House (population 50), 20 miles northeast of Fort Sumner. PNM will purchase the output from this farm from for distribution to its customers. The facility will consist of 136 turbines, each of which will have a peak output of 1.5 megawatts. FPL Energy expects to finish construction in mid-July, and when first completed it will be the third largest in the US. It is estimated that the facility will provide $40 million in economic benefit to the area over 25 years, and will provide the power equivalent to that consumed by 94,000 average homes annually. This will increase the amount of utility scale wind power in New Mexico by a factor of roughly two hundred! More info on the project can be found on PNM's website at http://www.pnm.com/systems/nmwec.htm.

Virtual Tour:

On May 2nd, PNM gave reporters, environmental groups, and prospective large green power customers (e.g. Kinko’s) a first look at the project. NMSEA's president, Ben Luce, attended the tour and took the following photos, which convey some sense of the scale of these endeavors:

On the (three hour) bus ride; Watching videos on wind power and answering wind trivia questions:

As the bus approaches, the lower halves of some of the 210 foot high  towers appear on the horizon, with an old windmill in the foreground. The towers are each approximately 75 feet from the edge of a mesa:

The bus arrives, and the gawking over the enormous rotors begins (each blade is over 110 feet long!):

Some of the tourees looking over a tower base and one of the GE manufactured turbine housings:

The doorway at the base of the tower:

A look up inside. Note the ladder and the wires:

Some tourees and a few of the landowners (wearing cowboy hats instead of construction helmets), in front of a rotor. These land owners will make as much as $5000 per turbine per year as wind ranchers. Note that the finely honed edge of the fiberglass rotor blades is clearly visible here:

The participants witnessed the mounting of one of the rotors. This 10 minute procedure used two cranes (one large, one smaller) and several people pulling ropes (believe it or not) to hoist and maneuver the rotor into place:

Several of the already installed turbines, not yet oriented and producing, but soon to be producing green power:

 

 The power from this facility will be bought by PNM and sold to their customers under terms that have just been clarified.