GE, Mesalands ink deal for wind turbine

Special to the Quay County Sun

SANTA FE – Gov. Bill Richardson approved $2 million in appropriations to help finance a 1.5 megawatt wind turbine to be installed at Mesalands Community College for the North American Wind Research and Training Center, according to a press release.

The turbine is expected to provide clean electricity generation using wind power, which will offset emissions that would otherwise be generated by its use of conventional electricity. The wind turbine is expected to offset or completely pay for Mesaland’s electricity requirements.

Preliminary studies for the project were initiated through $63,000 in funding provided by Energy, Minerals and Natural Resources Department’s Clean Energy Projects Program.
“Installing this new wind turbine at Mesalands is another step in building New Mexico into a clean energy state,” said Richardson in the release. “This is a major investment into North American Wind Research Training Center, and also into our next generation of renewable energy technicians.”

Representatives from General Electric Corp. and Mesalands signed a contract for the 1.5 megawatt wind turbine to be installed at Mesalands for the NAWRTC on Tuesday at the office of Secretary Joanna Prukop, Energy, Minerals, and Natural Resources Department. Ed English, account manager, Turbine Sales; and Marc Peterson, manager, Western U.S.A., Power Generation Sales, represented GE. Phillip O. Barry, president, and Jim Morgan, director of Technology, represented Mesalands.

“This will put Mesalands Community College and Tucumcari on the map,” said Prukop, “Mesalands is ahead of the game, and has the potential to expand as a premier training facility for wind energy development in the west.”

Obtaining the turbine from GE is the first step to establish NAWRTC and Mesalands training facility. In addition, Mesalands was awarded $2 million from the Department of Labor’s President’s Community Based Workforce Development Grant of which $750,000 was earmarked for the purchase of a wind turbine.

“We have what we need to get North American Wind Research Training center up and running and we will continue working on obtaining the funds we need to make this a first class facility that will truly serve all of North America,” said Barry.

An on-campus wind turbine at Mesalands will provide prospective student technicians real-world work experience in this exciting new industry. Sandia National Laboratory and New Mexico State University, College of Engineering, Institute for Energy and the Environment are the research partners in NAWRTC and will use the turbine as a platform to conduct operations and maintenance research, which becomes more necessary as wind energy industry matures.

The turbine is expected to provide clean electricity generation so that Mesalands can do its part in reducing climate change, according to the press release.

Mesalands administrators are seeking additional funds to construct the classrooms, offices and laboratory facilities; however, the project is officially underway and administrators are confident that it will be funded to its completion.