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Wind energy project stokes fire

A local rancher, Joe Bill Nunn, whose family owns ranches in the area, voiced concerns that wind turbine development could not only hurt the aesthetic value of the grasslands, but the property value as well. "We don't want to sell our property," Nunn told commissioners. "We plan on dying on this land, but we want to preserve the value of these lands.

A proposed wind project in Northeastern Luna County has the Board of Commissioners on the fence.

During a Tuesday work session, representatives of the Macho Springs Wind Project, Element Power and locals with deep agricultural roots in Luna County joined the Board of Commissioners to hear details on a proposed industrial revenue bond and potential impacts on the surrounding area, the Nutt Grasslands.

A local rancher, Joe Bill Nunn, whose family owns ranches in the area, voiced concerns that wind turbine development could not only hurt the aesthetic value of the grasslands, but the property value as well.

"We don't want to sell our property," Nunn told commissioners. "We plan on dying on this land, but we want to preserve the value of these lands, not only for the generations of our family that come after us and the generations of our neighbors' families, but also for the public and the people that enjoy the beautiful views that this area of Northeast Luna County has."

On Wednesday, when reached for comment, local resident Jack Harmon expressed concern that some regulations might not be followed, as he has personally experienced when dealing with other large projects.

"For me, I think... more [truncated due to possible copyright]  

A proposed wind project in Northeastern Luna County has the Board of Commissioners on the fence.

During a Tuesday work session, representatives of the Macho Springs Wind Project, Element Power and locals with deep agricultural roots in Luna County joined the Board of Commissioners to hear details on a proposed industrial revenue bond and potential impacts on the surrounding area, the Nutt Grasslands.

A local rancher, Joe Bill Nunn, whose family owns ranches in the area, voiced concerns that wind turbine development could not only hurt the aesthetic value of the grasslands, but the property value as well.

"We don't want to sell our property," Nunn told commissioners. "We plan on dying on this land, but we want to preserve the value of these lands, not only for the generations of our family that come after us and the generations of our neighbors' families, but also for the public and the people that enjoy the beautiful views that this area of Northeast Luna County has."

On Wednesday, when reached for comment, local resident Jack Harmon expressed concern that some regulations might not be followed, as he has personally experienced when dealing with other large projects.

"For me, I think they give a really good sales pitch, but it doesn't leave me with a comfortable feeling," he said. "My instincts tell me they are looking at us like other large contractors in the past, like we're a bunch of hicks and they can do what they want."

He says he supports the idea of alternative energy progress, but he cautions individuals to keep a close eye on the process, especially permitting and, once the project beings, dust control.

The commissioners also share a cautious approach to the proposed industrial revenue bond process of financing the project. The estimated project cost, at this point, is about $110 million dollars.

"The county can arrange to borrow money at lower rates than the private company would be able to arrange to borrow money," Commissioner Fred Williams said. "The county is not liable to pay off the revenue bonds; it is just the company (liable). This makes it more attractive for the county, that under no circumstances that anyone has mentioned to me, does the county have any liability."

Industrial revenue bonds are popular methods for governments to entice private industry to locate within the jurisdiction of the government for economic development.

With the issuance of an IRB, the county, in this case, would own the title to the project, which would give the company developing the project a governmental tax status in the applicable areas.

As a result, the company would not have to pay certain taxes, but would, based upon the contract worked out for the IRB, make payments to the county and Deming Public Schools district in lieu of taxes. Chairman Javier Diaz gave credit to county manager John Sutherland's negotiations up to this point, which, if the process is approved, would see the county receive an initial first payment of $325,000 with $150,00 to DPS.

"It's one of those things where they're going to do this one way or another," Chairman Diaz said. "It seems to me, it's in the best interests of the majority of citizens to have something where the county and schools benefit."

In lieu of taxes, the company would make payments to the county and school district. According to current figures, the total payments to the county over the next 30 years would equal just over $5 million of the $8.6 to be shared by the county and DPS, which is more than the $8.5 million that could be collected through traditional taxation.

It is advantageous to the company because it will receive tax breaks, including those on property and purchases. The company and its background are one point of concern for the commissioners, all of whom say they are researching additional information to come to a conclusion on supporting the IRB or not. Commissioner Debra French says she's "torn."

"I understand the concerns of the land owners surrounding the wind project, but I think this is a good opportunity for Luna County," she added.

The county has scheduled a special meeting for 2 p.m. on Thursday, July 22, at the Luna County Courthouse, 700 S. Silver Ave., to further consider the support it is willing to lend to the project and its parent company, Element Power of Portland, Ore.


Source: http://www.demingheadlight....

JUL 15 2010
http://www.windaction.org/posts/27255-wind-energy-project-stokes-fire
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