Xcel Energy adds $700m Hale wind power project to Texas-New Mexico wind farm build

A wind farm built by the largest energy provider in southeast New Mexico went into service last month, serving customers in Texas and New Mexico.

Xcel Energy announced the opening of its Hale Wind Project, centered in Plainview, Texas, which went into commercial operations June 28.

The company invested $700 million in the project, per a Monday news release, with 300 workers involved in the construction and about 20 permanent jobs created in operations and maintenance.

The Hale Wind Facilities is the first wind farm built by Xcel, although the company began purchasing wind energy for its customers in 1999, the release read.

“Hale Wind is the culmination of years of planning by local landowners who were determined to reap the benefits of wind energy for their home communities while providing a clean energy resource for electric customers across a wide region,” said David Hudson, president of Xcel Energy – New Mexico, Texas.

“Xcel Energy has been privileged to play a key role in making this dream a reality.”

The Hale project, combined with the planned Sagamore Wind Project in New Mexico was part of Xcel’s expansion into wind energy capacity in the Texas-New Mexico service area, read the release.

Xcel also entered into long-term contracts with NextEra Energy resource, using facilities in Cochran and Crosby counties in Texas.

Hudson said wind energy already reduced fuel costs to customers in both states, using “abundant” wind in the area as a source of energy for power generators, and acquiring federal tax credits.

“These fuel cost savings are already flowing through to our customers,” he said. “Additionally, we are passing along 100 percent of the savings from the federal production tax credits that are being generated at the Hale Wind Project.”

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Development of the Hale project began in 2008, with a group of 350 landowners and 120 investors courting wind developers.

Up to 239 Vestas wind turbines are involved in the project, with a combined generating capacity of 478 megawatts producing enough electricity to power 184,000 homes in the region, read the release.

The project also supported local economies, the release read, providing more than $1.9 million in annual royalty payments to landowners within the wind farm.

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Landowners will be allowed to work their land as previously, without giving ground water rights, the release read.

Another $22 million in property tax payment will be made by Xcel in the next 25 years, providing revenue to Hale County and the Petersburg Independent School District.

“The rural economy is greatly benefited by wind energy, which is why so many local landowners were eager to see this project come to life,” Hudson said.

Xcel planned to pursue more renewable energy sources, aimed at a goal of 80 percent carbon-free electricity by 2030, and 100 percent carbon-free by 2050.

In 2018, about 20 percent of the electricity supply in Texas and New Mexico was derived from wind and solar, the release read, and the company expected about half of the regions electricity supply with be generated from renewable resources by 2023.

The facility’s opening comes months after New Mexico Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham signed the Energy Transition Act (ETA) into state law.

The ETA called on New Mexico to provide 100 percent carbon-free electricity by 2045, and half carbon-free by 2030.

Introduced during the recent legislative session in February as Senate Bill 489, the ETA was cosponsored by State Sen. Jacob Candelaria (D-26), Sen. Mimi Stewart (D-17), and State Rep. Nathan Small (D-36).

It was intended to transition the state away from extractive forms of energy such as oil and gas and coal, and provided funding to assist workers with training or severance agreements after the closure of local coal and mining plants, and an expected reduction in drilling.

The governor championed the bill as a move toward better environmental protections, and clean energy throughout New Mexico.

“This robust package puts us in the driver’s seat, and I’m thrilled that so many New Mexico stakeholders are on board,” Lujan Grisham said. “The renewable and zero-carbon standards outlined in this bill are among the strongest in the country.”