Wind farm battles deadlines, weather

TV Hagenah

While many are pleased with the rain that has come to Quay County in the last four months, Cielo Wind Power Systems is not.

“The rain is no friend of ours,” said Walt Hornaday of Cielo Wind Power. The company who is in charge of the construction of 80 wind turbines on the edge of the caprock just south of San Jon has taken a major hit from the wet weather that has inundated the area in recent months.
“We just want it to stop so we can finish,” said Hornaday, the man in charge of Cielo on site. “You can have all the rain you want when we are finished.”

The deadline for the construction operation is the new year for the firm and with that deadline comes financial penalty and a loss of respect in the wind turbine construction field.
For that reason, Hornaday said Cielo has crews working around the clock and has them working seven days a week on the project to meet their deadline. Because of the moisture, Hornaday said the crews on the caprock have had their numbers increased by over 100 more than originally expected. “We’ve doubled and even tripled the number of people working on this to compress time during the dry weather,” said Hornaday. “We’ve got to get it done by year end.”

More and larger equipment has also been brought in to speed up the progress of the work which has also added to the expense for the company with the expense of the equipment itself and the necessity of settling with local ranchers on whose property the large equipment is being used and damaging the property. “We had hoped to tip-toe in and tip toe out,” said Hornaday referring to the firms plan for its method of construction.

He said with the deadline coming on and the soggy ground under large equipment, the original land-friendly plans have had to take something of a back seat and some rancher’s property has seen major changes to it. “We’ve worked to make sure it’s not torn up,” said Hornaday, “but it hasn’t been all good for the ranchers.”