Monday, December 13, 2010

Wind power versus vistas: Residents want 3-mile setback for utility-scale project

Staci Matlock | The New Mexican
Posted: Sunday, December 12, 2010 - 12/13/10

"The San Miguel County Commission is scheduled to vote on a revised ordinance governing wind-energy farms this week in Las Vegas.

A proposed wind farm by Chicago-based Invenergy, on mesa-top trust land leased from the New Mexico State Land Office, prompted an immediate backlash from nearby villages and a call for more space between the farm and private homes.

The residents living near and on Bernal Mesa, where the wind farm is proposed, want a three-mile setback from the closest residences.

Invenergy has proposed a 1,500-foot setback.

San Miguel County was the first in the state to approve a wind ordinance seven years ago when the wind industry was in its infancy. But it wasn't designed for utility-scale projects. The Invenergy project would involve up to 50 turbines each standing more than 350 feet tall and capable of producing 1.5 megawatts of energy.

The ordinance, which applies to any wind farms in the county, will dictate how the Invenergy project ultimately looks, according to Mark Jacobsen, the company's director of business development.

Unlike public utilities such as Public Service Company of New Mexico, wind farms aren't governed by the state's Public Regulation Commission unless the facility is larger than 300 megawatts. Since wind farms are technically free of any emissions, they aren't overseen by the state Environment Department. But wind farms have to follow county ordinances. " More>>>>

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