By Angela Peacock
During a wind ranch dedication ceremony Wednesday at the Tiban Mesa near house Public Service Company of New Mexico officially announced its ability to power 94,000 homes using wind-generated electricity.
“I can honestly say there are few things in life that are truly gorgeous but this is one of them,” said PNM president, chairman and CEO Jeff Sterba about the ranch.
New Mexico Speaker of the House Ben Lujan helped pass state legislation for tax incentives to assist in the project construction cost. During the dedication he thanked FPL Energy LLC for their ongoing commitment to keeping state officials and eastern New Mexico residents informed throughout each phase of the project.
“Wind can provide a major economic boost to the state and we need to ensure there will be more wind energy,” said Lujan, explaining how more work is necessary to persuade Congress to extend the federal 1.8 cent per kilowatt-hour production tax credit for wind energy.
PNM is already transmitting power from the wind ranch’s 136 wind turbines that have the capability produce up to 204 megawatts of power, or enough to power 94,000 average homes. Sterba said that amount of power represents eight percent of PNM’s total generating capacity.
During the dedication Suedeen Kelly, law professor at University of New Mexico law school, joined Sterba in signing an agreement to become the state’s first resident to recieve wind-generated electricity.
“You just got to put your money where your heart is,” Kelly said. “I’m a believer in renewable energy and am honored to be a part of the effort to make wind energy a reality in New Mexico.”
Through PNM’s “Sky Blue” program, residential customers can purchase wind-generated electricity in blocks of 100 kilowatt-hours for an extra $1.80 per month. Sterba said that amount is in addition to the standard cost of 100 kilowatt hours at about $8.50.
Gov. Bill Richardson made a brief stop at the dedication to show support for the legislation passed earlier this year to support renewable energy. While wind farms create jobs and aid the state’s economic development, Richardson said they also help decrease America’s dependence on imported oil.
Not only was eastern New Mexico an ideal location for FPL Energy LLC to construct the worlds third largest wind ranch, but company president Jim Robo said he couldn’t have asked for better collaboration from ranchers, government officials and project employees working to transform wind into a renewable source of energy.
“Projects like these receive long term support and have a tremendous impact on local rural communities,” Robo said. “It’s touching for me to see elementary aged school children attend the wind ranch dedication.”
With plans to expand FPL Energy’s presence throughout the Land of Enchantment Robo said his company is committed to future business in New Mexico.