Library from New Mexico
Mike Newman from First Southwest Company in Dallas, an investment banking firm that specializes in public finance, told commissioners at their special meeting earlier this month wind farms in northern areas of the county appears to be on horizon. He explained the advantages of an ordinance, the use of industrial revenue bonds for financing a project and providing tax breaks, and the dollar savings of coordinating with a neighboring county.
Under state regulations, utility companies in New Mexico must produce 20 percent of total energy needs from renewable resources by 2020, at least 20 percent of that from wind. For all the support of wind energy, some people still worry about the impact of a string of massive wind farms across New Mexico. They believe the rules governing wind farm placement need to carefully consider the impacts.
Santa Fe County installed a 12-kilowatt wind turbine at its newly constructed Public Works facility last October. But the machine is not up and running yet. Community Project Division Director Paul Olafson said the 100-foot-tall windmill is ready to start providing power to the new Public Works building and back into the power grid "pending a windy day." Public Service Company of New Mexico inspectors need to see the turbine in action before they can certify that it's safe to connect it to the power grid.
The proposed SunZia Southwest Transmission Project seeks to deliver wind-generated electricity to western area markets and load centers. The proposed parallel lines would run through federal, state and private lands. ...According to a U.S. Bureau of Land Management news release, SunZia's proposed route for the 460-mile lines would originate at a substation to be constructed in Socorro County or nearby Lincoln County.
Two wind-testing towers came down this week after Taos County threatened to prosecute Taos Wind Power if it did not remove them. One located on private property approximately 8.2 miles southeast of Tres Piedras and another 3.5 miles north of Tres Piedras, the towers were approved by the county Dec. 4, 2007.
The SunZia transmission line that would link sun and wind power from central New Mexico with cities in Arizona is just the sort of energy project an environmentalist could love -- or hate. And it is just the sort of line the Interior Department has been tasked with promoting -- or guarding against. If built, the 460-mile line would carry about 3,000 megawatts of power, enough to avoid the need for a handful of coal-fired plants and to help utilities meet mandated targets for use of renewable fuel.
The Santa Fe New Mexican reports that an off-the-grid community is resisting the development of a wind farm just west of Taos, NM. Residents are concerned about health risks from low-frequency vibrations, flashing strobe lights, annoying shadows, turbines killing birds and bats, and landscape blight. However, a larger issue is at hand. ...Many residents in the Cielito Lindo subdivision of Taos, where homes rely primarily on solar energy, have vocalized their objections.
Must we wait until every tract of land from Kansas to California bristles with propeller-topped towers before wondering if there's a way to concentrate this new industry and consolidate transmission costs? Will we carpet the country in concrete-based wind farms only to discover more compact means of making and storing electricity?
More turbines are in windy New Mexico's future, making many renewable energy advocates cheer. ...But a battle is brewing over where wind energy facilities should be built in New Mexico, and the first battleground is in rural villages. ...Hugh Ley, a former San Miguel County commissioner, said it is critical for counties to have specific ordinances for wind energy facilities. "Otherwise they will be making arbitrary and capricious decisions based on which way the wind is blowing," he said.
Wind power offers the potential of clean, inexhaustible, if intermittent, energy. But where to site wind turbines in relation to homes and communities is a major and growing point of controversy around the world and in the U.S. Here's why.
The potential impacts of placing such tall wind turbines near communities was among topics at a meeting Tuesday in Santa Fe hosted by two community groups concerned about large-scale, wind-energy farms proposed in New Mexico. More than 50 people - among them rural residents, clean energy advocates and state officials - packed a room at the State Library.
In a heated meeting that lasted until 11 p.m. Tuesday, the Taos County Planning Commission approved variances for a proposed wind farm, contrary to the county planning staff's recommendation. The commission voted 5-2 to grant Taos attorney and Centinel Bank founder Eliu Romero height and landscape variances and a major land-development permit for a 27-turbine wind farm west of Taos.
The city's planning and zoning commission is recommending to the city commission an ordinance regulating residential wind turbines within city limits. The Planning and Zoning Commission discussed the proposal Wednesday during its monthly meeting. ...The ordinance includes regulation of tower height and design standards. The ordinance also requires a building permit to construct a wind energy system on residential property.
Living off the grid doesn't necessarily mean you want to live next to a wind farm, even if it is designed to generate electrical power from a renewable energy source. A well-known Taos attorney's proposal to develop a wind farm has angered some residents near the site, including people in the Cielito Lindo subdivision, where homes rely primarily on solar energy.
A Chicago-based energy company has signed a two-year option on more than 7,000 acres of state trust land on a mesa top in San Miguel County for a potential wind farm. Some residents oppose the plan by Invenergy to place up to 50 wind turbines on the mesa that borders radio shock jock Don Imus' ranch off Interstate 25 near Bernal. Mark Jacobson, director of business development for Invenergy, said the company is still completing environmental studies required by the State Land Office and must obtain approval for the project from San Miguel County.
Commission Chairman Tom Martin said the need for an ordinance addressing wind turbines surfaced because the city Building Safety Department has received numerous inquiries from residents who want to install wind towers on their properties. The ordinance regulates the allowable height of wind towers and appropriate the square acreage of properties where they could be installed. "We just didn't want them in the center of town," said Department Director Pete Wilt.
According to the loyal opposition's attorneys, the proponents "slipshod" application was short on facts and long on "trust us" promises. Due to the major development status of the projected $150 million wind turbine field and a lack of information and time to digest it, the P&Zers voted to continue the hearing until Dec. 9.
Early in their development, long-bladed wind turbines were seen as threats to birds, especially migrating varieties used to crossing certain mountain passes. Now, in spite of technological improvements and efforts to keep their propellers off at critical times, lawsuits are descending on wind farms - working ones and some on the drawing boards - to turn them off or to stop development in the path of some birds' migration and in bat habitat. But behind some environmentalist arguments against the increasing clusters of wind turbines is a more basic, if less compelling objection: They're ugly. They can be noisy. Besides that, opponents wonder, how do we know they're not sending surges of electricity into the atmosphere, doing who-knows-what damage to animals, two- and four-legged alike?
New Mexico regulators have ordered an investigation into whether a tariff charged by the state's largest utility for a voluntary renewable energy program is just and reasonable. The state Public Regulation Commission announced Monday that it will review the tariff charged by Public Service Company of New Mexico for its Sky Blue program, in which customers elect to pay extra for wind-generated electricity. PRC Chairman Jason Marks questions whether the combined effects of the Sky Blue charge with a recently approved fuel adjustment surcharge and a tariff approved in an earlier rate case adds up to an overcharge for Sky Blue subscribers.
Plans for a wind farm in northern New Mexico hit some turbulence Tuesday as the Taos County Planning Commission postponed a decision in the face of local resistance. The Taos News reports that it was standing room only at the commission meeting Tuesday night where a proposal by Taos Wind Power to install 65 wind turbines outside Tres Piedras was to be voted on. The company, represented by attorney Eliu Romero, needs a variance to put up the towers, each of which is 284 feet high.