It was announced late Wednesday that the United States Senate approved a comprehensive national energy policy bill that includes a provision to extend a tax credit for wind energy production.
That lack of tax credit has held up construction of a proposed “wind farm” just south of San Jon for nearly a year. According to area residents, the Cielo Land and Cattle Company of Austin was hesitant to commit themselves without that tax credit and many in the area were afraid that if the impasse over the tax credit continued much longer the Texas firm might lose interest in developing the Quay County project. That worry no longer exists.
In fact, New Mexico Commissioner of Public Lands Patrick H. Lyons Thursday signed an agreement with Cielo Land and Cattle to develop “a wind power generating facility on 1,840 acres of state trust land southeast of Tucumcari in Quay County,” according to Kristin Haase of Lyons’ office.
The proposed facility is expected to contain 80 wind turbines, eight of which will be located on trust land, and is projected to produce 80 megawatts of Power.
When the Quay County Commissioners heard the news during their Thursday meeting, all three commissioners expressed their pleasure in the news. “I am elated about this information,” said Commissioner Grace Madrid. “I hadn’t heard that the tax credit passed. This is extremely good news for everyone in the county.” Commissioner Frankly McCasland echoed Madrid’s enthusiasm about the planned project. “I’m excited we are going to have the economic development and economic boost to our area of Eastern New Mexico that this will bring with it,” said McCasland. “I believe they are talking about 67 new jobs. That is very good news.”
Perhaps the most excited with the news was Commissioner Jeff Lewalling in whose district most of the building will be done. “I am overjoyed that this has happened. It is a fine boost to everyone in the county. It is a boost to San Jon School, Tucumcari Schools, Mesalands Community College. It is a sign we are going forward and that is so important.” Representatives of the Austin, Texas company said they were hesitant to say exactly when work would begin on the construction of the 80 wind-powered turbines, but did say it would be “extremely soon.” In April Lyons announced he was prepared to sign two pending agreements to develop wind energy in New Mexico, but the projects were contingent upon the approval of alternative energy tax incentives included in the bill that passed on Wednesday.
“Alternative energy projects will diversify our energy portfolio, provide economic development opportunities, and create jobs in rural New Mexico,” said Lyons. Lewalling said for the people of the area the announcement was even more personal. “I guess good things do happen to those who wait,” said Lewalling. “And the people of Quay County have been waiting for something like this for about 100 years.”
The new wind farm will join the one already in operation near House, which consists of 136 turbines managed by Florida Power and Light.