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Finance Committee hears wind farm update

by Larry Patrick

WALSENBURG- The Walsenburg Finance Committee got a detailed update from Ralph Hubregsen of Viento Claro Energy who is proposing a 60 turbine wind farm on four parcels of land.  The City of Walsenburg owns the largest portion of land east of I-25 and north of Hwy 10.  Bill Ugolini, John Davis and Maria Lake Partnership also own parcels of land that the wind farm is projected to go on.  The three landowners have contracted with Viento Claro Energy already.  The city is still looking into the matter.  They are slated to consider the proposal at their first meeting in August.

    Hubregsen updated the city council on the project.  He said Torch Renewable Energy is partnering with Viento Claro Energy on the project proposal.  Torch is a Colorado based company with 12 similar projects across seven states currently in the works.

    One anemometer is currently on the site and wind speeds are looking good.  However it has only been up for 60 days.  Another one is likely to be put up for additional testing for the next year or two.

    Dan Hyatt, the City Attorney has gone over the agreement and made legal edits.  Torch Renewable Energy has agreed to Hyatt’s changes.  A six year pre-construction lease is being sought that would bring the city $42,000 if the project goes forward.  A 30 year term for the wind farm is being sought with royalty payments made from 4 to 6 % over the 30 year period.

    Viento Claro Energy has preliminary plans of 60 turbines providing 100 mega-watts of energy production.  Under the current proposals, 30 of the 60 turbines would go on city owned land with the other 30 divided up between the other three land owners.

    A number of wind farm companies are proposing building wind farms in this area but all are contingent on Xcel Energy giving them a purchase agreement. Only one or two of the companies will likely succeed in getting the agreement.  So there are no guarantees for anyone yet.  There is no cost to the City of Walsenburg on this project.

    The City reserves the right to use other parts of the land for mineral extractions, solar projects or other purposes so long as it doesn’t interfere with wind flow.

    Some local jobs will be provided for the construction phase but a lot of the work is specialized so some workers will have to be brought in for that portion of construction.  Revenue to the City over the 30 years would come in the form of energy produced and the percentage the city receives plus taxes.

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