HUERFANO — New Centennial Power, LLC, developer of the Huerfano River Wind Farm, along with Michels Engineering and Huerfano Peak Sand and Gravel, have broken ground on the 9 MW wind farm located at Exit 60 on I-25 north of Walsenburg. It will link into the the Huerfano River Substation, just north of Exit 60.
Construction began during the final week of2011 on the foundations for the five 1.8MW turbines to be located on the farm and the project is expected to be completed in the summer of 2012. The turbines will stand about 240 feet high with approximately a 141-foot blade length, giving each turbine an overall height of about 381 feet.
The project will employ 40 workers from the local workforce during its construction. Over the rest of the 20-30 year lifespan of the project, one full time employee will be needed for maintenance and operation of the project.
Chris Schaefer, general manager for New Centennial Power, says, “A wind resource assessment report was prepared by Richard Simon and Gregory Poulos at V-Bar LLC, for the Huerfano River Wind Project location. Data came from two meteorological towers that are located south east of the project site. The prevailing winds are from the west, representing the strong flow coming out of the gap in the Rocky Mountains that has been cut by the Huerfano River.
Average wind speed at the site is considered to be between Good and Excellent in the Wind Power Classifications.”
Schaefer pointed out that Walsenburg will benefit from generating 5% of its own power because it will stabilize that percentage of its rates for the next 20 to 25 years, the lifetime of the project. The wind farm will help Walsenburg keep electricity rates steady as coal prices rise in the future.
The Huerfano River Wind Project has a power purchase agreement in place to sell power to San Isabel Electric Association. In an interview with the HWJ Tuesday, Reg Rudolph, General Manager of San Isabel Electric Association said, “through our wholesale power contract with Tristate, SIEA can purchase up to 5% of its total generation from local resources. New Centennial represents that entire 5% cap for San Isabel.”
Rudolph continued saying, “San Isabel has made a lot of investment to better serve its members. We are glad we can do it in Huerfano County, because the commissioners have been so fantastic for us to work with. It is great to see this project coming to fruition.”
Schaefer also told the Huerfano World Journal, “San Isabel has been great to work with. Not all rural electric associations look at renewable energy in this forward thinking of a way. They are being good stewards of your money, and are willing to go outside the box. “Your community is lucky ro have the leadership and progressive management that it does at San Isabel Association.”
Schaefer also noted, ”Part of the goal of this project is to contribute scholarship funds to the Spanish Peaks Community Foundation on an annual basis. The scholarships will help students planning to attend four year colleges as well as those planning to go to trade schools. The high school class of 2013 is projected to be the first class to take advantage of this opportunity.”
When asked about the company’s future plans once this project is completed, Schaefer told the World World Journal, “New Centennial is looking for other opportunities to expand on the concept in other rural areas.” She also said that if an opportunity arises for San Isabel to generate more than 5% of its energy needs from renewables in the future, New Centennial would be interested in expanding the Huerfano River Wind Project. Rudolf said that the capacity of the existing substation would be a limiting factor on that location for more than one or two additional turbines. More turbines could be built if there were substantial upgrades to the Huerfano River Substation.