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Wind Farm moving forward

by Brian Orr

WALSENBURG- The Huerfano County Commissioners on Wednesday morning granted a feasibility permit to Pole Canyon, LLC for their wind farm farm project, slated to run north of the Huerfano River and west of I-25.

    David Hettich, project manager, and Grant Gurnee, Pole Canyon’s environmental coordinator, told the Commissioners the proposed project could grow to generate 300 megawatts, though they would start out at 100 megawatts and expand as able.    According to Hettich, a single megawatt would be enough to power 500 houses for a year.  The average wind turbine generates approximately 1.5 megawatts, but the machines Pole Canyon is planning on using are larger, generating between 2.4 and 3 megawatts each.  For the initial phase of the project then, approximately 41 towers would need to be built.

    Commissioner Art Bobian asked Hettich what short term and long term jobs might come in with this project.  Hettich noted there was a wind tech. training program offered at Trinidad State Junior College, and they would probably be hiring theirgraduates.  For the initial build-out, they would need 30 to 45 employees to construct the towers and the power lines.

    Hettich added they would keep their power transmission lines as close to existing power lines as possible.  He added they will not be using the San Isabel power grid, as it is not large enough to handle this level of power.

    In other business, the Commissioners heard from Forester CK Morey on the County’s 2008 Fire Operations Plan, detailing how the County will respond to wildfires.  Morey talked about the highlights of the hefty plan, including interactions with federal agencies, jurisdictions,reimbursements,  equipment and its use, and who can authorize air tanker drops on a wild fire, and how many to use.  The Commissioners signed off on the plan as presented.

    The Commissioners also hired the law firm of Goldman, Robbins & Nicholson out of Durango to give legal advice on oil and gas issues.  Commissioner Scott King pled ignorance  on  the subject and said the county needed assistance.