On May 12, Cibola County Commissioners voted unanimously to support the county’s intention to finalize plans with Red Mesa Wind, LLC, for a 102.4-megawatt wind turbine farm on approximately 5,000 acres of private land 60 miles northeast of Grants, 15 miles north of Laguna. The company plans to install 64 398-foot towers to deliver energy into the electric grid through a PNM transmission line.

The commission is scheduled to vote on a $215 million industrial revenue bond issue on June 15. There will be no county financial obligation or taxpayer money used, according to commission chair Eddie Michael. The project is expected to generate $1 million in gross receipts taxes during construction, and to pay $15 million over 20 years. There will be payment in lieu of taxes of $425,000 annually for the first five years and $625,000 annually as long as the bonds are outstanding. This will result in over $11 million to the county, hospital, NM State University-Grants, and the Grants/Cibola County Public Schools over the 20-year life of the bonds.

The project, which is projected to be operational by 2011, will create up to 150 construction jobs, and once completed, will employ about ten people. Development will include access roads, an operation/maintenance facility, and transmission lines.

Red Mesa is a subsidiary of NextEra Energy Resources, the largest producer of wind energy in the United States, and the second largest in the world. NextEra is one of several companies owned by The FPL Group, which has built wind energy projects in Quay and DeBaca counties, according to Bob Gallagher, former head of the NM Oil and Gas Association. Gallagher is currently a consultant and lobbyist for Cibola County.