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Pole Canyon Wind farm development in limbo

by Bill Knowles

WALSENBURG– The new owners of the Pole Canyon wind farm development are waiting to hear from Xcel Energy concerning a Request for Purchase of the electricity generated by the future project in order to move forward with the development.

    RFP’s were requested by Xcel Energy in January of 2009 and according to Mark Stutz, a media spokesperson for Xcel Energy, awards for RFP’s from that bidding period haven’t been announced as of yet.

    “We had an all source proposal that went out in January 2009 and it can take a year or more for any RFPs to be awarded and only one has gone out.  Corporate policy prohibits us from saying anything about it until it is released,” Stutz said.

    The new owners, Pattern Energy Group, will need a to have an RFP in hand in order to move forward on the Pole Canyon Wind Farm project.  As of press time for the newspaper, Pattern Energy Group hasn’t returned any phone calls or answered email requesting information about the project including time lines for its development.

    An early 2009 economic impact study conducted by two CSU-Pueblo professors shows the PCWF project will benefit Huerfano County possibly bringing in $5.2 million during the construction phase.

    it will bring in at least $1.28 million a year to the county in property taxes, and provide at least 20 full time jobs, with an average salary of $40,000 a year.  In the initial construction phase the project should provide around 200 temporary construction jobs as the windmills are being built, and contribute to the local sales tax as their employees stay here and eat here.

    The project will consist of 125 turbines located on the Eagle Flats Ranch extending from Highway 69 to Interstate 25 to County Road 102.

    The 300 megawatt 28,000-acre PCWF would generate enough electricity to power on average 80,000 to 100,000 homes.  However the electricity generated by PCWF would be sold to Xcel Energy who finds its largest customer base in Colorado to be in Denver.

    At first construction on the wind farm was slated to start in early 2010 at a cost of approximately $670 million.  However the purchase of the interest held by Samuel Gary Jr and Associates in PCWF by Pattern Energy of California last fall may delay the development of the project as the paper workmoves through the system.