New Mexico uranium capital turns to wind power

A part of New Mexico that was once one of the world’s major sources of uranium is about to become a major supplier of wind energy. The Cibola County Commission is about to close a deal that will let a private company build a massive wind farm northeast of Grants.

High on the northeaster flanks of Mount Taylor, work crews from Nextera Energy are already staking out the sites for more than 60 giant wind turbines. The Cibola County Commission officially endorsed the project this week.

In the nearby village of Bibo, Cibola County Commission Chairman Edward Michael said they back the wind farm plan for one primary reason. "Revenue for the county, we’ve been a very poor county ever since the mines went out and we’re just trying to do something for our economy," Michael said.

Nextera’s parent company built a wind farm near Fort Sumner seven years ago. The wind turbines there are 210 feet tall. The forthcoming Cibola County wind turbines will be nearly twice the height.

The Cibola machines will generate a few permanent jobs, but also hundreds of thousands of dollars in taxes and fees. A wind power project is a departure for Cibola County which is actually known as the uranium capital of the world.

All the uranium mines, however, have been shuttered for years.

By Bob Martin,