Published: 2:06 pm, Wed. Jun. 28th, 2017Updated: 2:05 pm
State Land Commissioner Aubrey Dunn is urging the New Mexico Public Regulation Commission (PRC) to approve a proposed 522-megawatt wind farm he says will bring clean energy, economic investment, and jobs to the state.
Xcel Energy, the nation’s top utility wind energy provider for the past 12 years, is investing nearly $900 million in New Mexico in order to develop the Sagamore Wind Project, located 20 miles southeast of Portales in Roosevelt County.
At a meeting Friday in Santa Fe, PRC Commissioner Patrick Lyons, R-Cuervo, said he was unsure of the need for the effort and that the commission would be looking at the proposal “real close.” The PRC had originally scheduled an Aug. 15 hearing on the matter but has requested a postponement of that hearing and a shifting of the approval deadline from December to March 21, 2018.
The commission said part of the reason for that request is that the Public Utility Commission of Texas is expected to issue a ruling on a similar Xcel proposal in August, and the PRC wishes to evaluate their decision.
“It surprises me that, considering the level of energy consumption in the United States, a member of the PRC is asking Xcel Energy to prove there is a need for more sources of renewable energy,” said Dunn. “This single wind farm will power 260,000 homes, schools, and businesses with clean energy; not to mention the 300 construction jobs and 20 to 30 full-time positions the project will bring to the region.”
In an effort to diversify the State Land Office’s portfolio and encourage investment in New Mexico, Dunn is currently reviewing seven wind energy applications and one solar energy application, which together cover 138,474 acres of State Trust Lands.
Chicago-based Invenergy LLC, which will develop the wind farm for Xcel Energy, has applied for a State Land Office business lease covering 18,000 acres of State Trust Lands.
Furthermore, the State Land Office has recently developed a new wind energy lease template which will provide for additional revenue early-on in the project and includes additional protections regarding reclamation.
“Xcel Energy is a tremendous asset to New Mexico and I appreciate them doing business with the State Land Office,” said Dunn.
“Xcel Energy, through our Southwestern Public Service Company subsidiary, has been a partner in New Mexico’s development since 1904,” said David Hudson, president of Xcel Energy – New Mexico, Texas. “Our planned investment of $865 million in new wind resources in Roosevelt County is characteristic of what we’ve been doing for years – building value in the state by growing the tax base and providing safe, reliable and reasonably priced energy to grow the economy.
“Xcel Energy’s overall proposal will save New Mexico and Texas customers about $2.8 billion over 30 years, demonstrating our commitment to delivering customer value.”