- Associated Press - Saturday, October 11, 2014

HOBBS, N.M. (AP) - Eastern New Mexico is set to be the home of a new wind farm.

The Anderson Wind Farm is under construction in Lea County - in the heart of the state’s oil and gas country - and could start generating power by December, the Hobbs News-Sun reports (http://goo.gl/SlzlmP)

The facility featuring nearly two dozen 264-foot-tall wind turbines will sit west of Lovington near Maljamar, officials said.

The project will use 1.85- and 2-megawatt wind turbines, said Chris Copeland, construction manager with BayWa Energy Resources. “December 1 is our target Certificate of Delivery,” he said.

The power generated by the farm will go directly into the Lea County Electric Cooperative’s system.

The cooperative signed a contract that allows it to buy power from BayWa so it can cut its dependence on Xcel Energy’s network, cooperative executive director Gary Hurse said. Under the contract, the cooperative must completely wean itself from buying power from Xcel Energy by 2026.

“It is kind of a unique situation,” Hurse said. “We are doing it behind the meter. We are reducing our energy requirements from Xcel Energy by using the power from the wind farm directly.”

The new wind farm will actually be several small 7-8 megawatt farms, which are small enough to provide power behind the meter, Hurse said. If the farms were larger, they would violate behind-the-meter regulations and have to be on the open market.

The cooperative must cut another 35 megawatts of power from Xcel by 2017. The wind farm will help with that goal, and the rest of the power will be purchased from Western Farmers Power Cooperative, which Lea County Electric Cooperative joined in 2012.

Customers could soon notice changes in their bills, but not because of the wind farm, Hurse said.

“We are trying to stabilize our pricing now,” he said. “The EPA Clean Air Act is trying to reduce CO2, and that is directed more to coal plants. We are going to see more pressure to decommission coal, and we have to find other ways to provide more efficient resources.”

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Information from: Hobbs News-Sun, http://www.hobbsnews.com

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