Quay County Sun - Serving the High Plains

By Steve Hansen

Mesalands marks American Wind Week with event

An open house and ribbon cutting were held for Grady project.


August 15, 2018

Steve Hansen

Andy Swapp of the Mesalands wind energy faculty shakes hands with Owen Condit of Albuquerque after Owen turned a generator crank to demonstrate how electricity is made.

An open house Friday at Mesalands Community College's North American Wind Research and Training Center drew students, national wind energy industry leaders and elected officials to commemorate American Wind Week.

The American Wind Energy Association (AWEA) sponsored the open house as one of a series of events commemorating American Wind Week at different locations across the U.S., including Cleveland, Ohio; Orlando, Florida: and Portland, Oregon.

A ribbon-cutting for a new wind energy development in Grady was another wind energy week event.

Participants toured the wind energy center and got a glimpse of the Mesalands wind turbine's interior at ground level after gathering to hear talks by wind training center leaders, local and regional elected officials and new Mesalands president John Groesbeck. They also viewed video programs produced by the American Wind Energy Association that featured the wind turbine generator at Mesalands and several "wind farms" in eastern New Mexico.

Ron Wilmot, representing Rep. Ben Ray Lujan, said wind energy is growing faster in New Mexico than in any other state.

An AWEA publication noted that the state hosts 17 wind projects with a total of 1,005 total turbines, and at least seven additional projects either under development or under construction.

The state currently produces enough wind energy to power more than 420,000 homes, the publication said..

The new project at Grady,Wilmot said, will host 44 new wind-turbine generators.

He also mentioned Excel Energy's Sagamore project south of Portales, which is valued at $865 million and will generate about 522 megawatts upon completion.

Groesbeck talked about possible expansion of Mesalands' education and training programs to include forms of solar energy, and "demand-side management" technologies that work with energy users to promote energy conservation and reducing energy use when demand is high.

He revealed some detailed knowledge of renewable energy and "demand-side" programs that he learned by working for the Minnesota Public Utilities Commission, he said.

Andy Swapp of the wind center faculty presented the center's director Jim Morgan a Champion of Wind Energy Award from AWEA.

After the program in the wind center's auditorium, Swapp conducted a tour of the wind center, including its electricity laboratory and rescue training areas.

Another faculty member, Terrill Stowe, took small groups into the base of the wind center's 260-foot tall wind turbine and demonstrated controls, and the ladders that extend to the nacelle at the top of the turbine, where the generator is housed behind the hub where the 100-foot turbine blades meet.

Among the students at the event was Dylan Germain, who decided he wanted to study wind energy after he had flown to Amarillo, Texas, from Boston, Mass., and started hiking west, pushing all his belongings in a wheelbarrow, in August 2016, he said.

"I saw the wind turbine in Tucumcari and decided that's what I wanted to do," he said.

Germain said he is finishing his second year in the wind energy program, seeking an associate's degree.

He then intends to continue his wind-energy education at Texas Tech University in Lubbock, Texas, to the Ph.D level.

After that, he said, "I'm going to work for AWEA."


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