Construction could begin next year on what will be the largest wind farm in New Mexico, just 20 miles to the south of the city of Portales.
Despite earlier concerns regarding customer surcharge issues, members of the New Mexico Public Regulation Commission have voted unanimously to approve the construction by the Chicago-based Invenergy LLC of a 522-megawatt facility that will go up on some around 100,000 acres.
Invenergy will be building the unprecedentedly large facility for Xcel Energy of Minneapolis.
Early last year Xcel Energy officials said they wanted to see built both the New Mexico farm, as well as an additional 478-megawatt facility north of Lubbock, Texas.
The New Mexico facility is expected to cost $865 million to build, with the two projects together carrying a combined price tag of $1.6 billion.
The farms will be capable of providing up to 1.2 gigawatts of electricity, enough to provide the power needs of well over 400,000 homes on an annual basis in eastern New Mexico and western Texas.
At the time of the 2017 announcement, Xcel officials said the new wind projects would lower the cost of energy for its customers to the tune of around $2.8 billion annually.
But an Xcel plan for recovering initial lost earning associated with the operation of the farms prompted a Public Regulation Commission hearing office in February to question the financial metrics of the project.
In response, Xcel agreed that it would sell wind power on the wholesale market, obviating the need to pass on a surcharge to customers, a proposal that the Public Regulation Commission members liked.
In a statement, David Hudson, president of Xcel Energy for New Mexico and Texas, said “these wind facilities will power the regional economy with energy from our abundant, fuel-free wind resources and save customers hundreds of millions of dollars in energy costs for decades to come.”
By Garry Boulard
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