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Luna County takes step closer to wind energy

An inducement resolution to pave the way for the Macho Springs Wind Energy Project was unanimously approved during a Thursday special meeting of the Luna County Board of Commissioners. The resolution is the first of many steps to help Oregon-based Element Power erect 28 wind turbines in Northeastern Luna County.

An inducement resolution to pave the way for the Macho Springs Wind Energy Project was unanimously approved during a Thursday special meeting of the Luna County Board of Commissioners.

The resolution is the first of many steps to help Oregon-based Element Power erect 28 wind turbines in Northeastern Luna County. The resolution outlines the responsibilities of each party for the project and, according to Luna County manager John Sutherland, it keeps the county from any liability in the event the project fails before the 30-year agreement reaches its endpoint.

Before the commission voted, it heard a wide range of thoughts and questions from the public. Proponents and opponents of the measure were heard in detail.

"At this point, with the economy, we can't say no," Mary Neto, a local resident, said. "We have to have renewable energy. We can't have more oil spills in the gulf."

Others supported advancing renewable forms of energy, but, at the same time, took issue with the county's involvement in a project that may or may not bring bountiful benefits to the local area. Local Larry Caldwell argued that consumer spending is the foundation of a "healthy" economy and the projected creation of five jobs... more [truncated due to possible copyright]  

An inducement resolution to pave the way for the Macho Springs Wind Energy Project was unanimously approved during a Thursday special meeting of the Luna County Board of Commissioners.

The resolution is the first of many steps to help Oregon-based Element Power erect 28 wind turbines in Northeastern Luna County. The resolution outlines the responsibilities of each party for the project and, according to Luna County manager John Sutherland, it keeps the county from any liability in the event the project fails before the 30-year agreement reaches its endpoint.

Before the commission voted, it heard a wide range of thoughts and questions from the public. Proponents and opponents of the measure were heard in detail.

"At this point, with the economy, we can't say no," Mary Neto, a local resident, said. "We have to have renewable energy. We can't have more oil spills in the gulf."

Others supported advancing renewable forms of energy, but, at the same time, took issue with the county's involvement in a project that may or may not bring bountiful benefits to the local area. Local Larry Caldwell argued that consumer spending is the foundation of a "healthy" economy and the projected creation of five jobs over the next 30 years is not enticing enough in light of the county's consistently high unemployment rate. He said the job-creation projection is "unacceptable."

Local rancher Joe Bill Nunn came out fully against the measure, saying that by approving the proposal, the county is "helping the decimation" of property rights in the area.

"Livestock production is still the second-highest cash crop in New Mexico and I, as a rancher, don't get any of the incentives these guys do," he added.

The incentives to which Nunn referred come in the form of benefits attached to an industrial revenue bond, which will be the next step of consideration for the county. An IRB would put the project lease in the county's name, which would give the developer a tax-exempt status in the applicable areas. However, the developer will be required to make payments in lieu of taxes to the county and Deming Public Schools District to the estimated tune of $8.6 million, instead of $8.5 million over 30 years via traditional taxation.

John Knight, of Element Power, put the need for backing for financing on the line following questions from the audience.

"This project does not work without this," he said. "We would not be here today asking for it if we did not need it."

Prior to Knight's statement, Sutherland reinforced the soundness of Element Power and its partners.

"My work with the developer has proven they are honest and straightforward," he said.

The company plans to build 28 wind turbines in Luna County and another 28 in Sierra County. The Luna County portion includes the Nutt Grasslands, which locals have argued could be hurt in terms of aesthetics and property values if the project moves forward.

The next step for the county is the consideration of a bond ordinance. The county will not be loaning money, nor will it be held accountable to shareholders if the project goes belly-up.


Source: http://www.lcsun-news.com/l...

JUL 23 2010
http://www.windaction.org/posts/27416-luna-county-takes-step-closer-to-wind-energy
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