Wind energy company chooses Clovis for plant

By Kevin Wilson: CNJ staff writer

Vert-I-Go Wind Energy has chosen Clovis for its foray into wind farm operation and turbine manufacturing, and expects to bring in 60 jobs by 2013.

A subsidiary of Plano, Texas-based Abundant Energy, Vert-I-Go has reached a preliminary agreement with the city to purchase 6 acres of land south of the city landfill, with an option for an additional 34 acres later, for a five-megawatt wind farm and manufacturing plant for its wind turbines.

Chase Gentry, executive director of the Clovis Industrial Development Corporation, said the company will bring six local jobs to Clovis in its first year and ramp the job count up to 60 by 2013.

“I think the reason they want to come to Clovis is the easy access with the railroad,” Gentry said, “And our wind patterns are pretty high. It’s a very good place for wind energy.”

During a recent city/county luncheon, Gentry hinted at a release in the coming weeks for a renewable energy company. A purchase agreement for the land was approved during Thursday’s city commission meeting.

Kurt Knapton, CEO of Abundant Energy, said Clovis has plenty of untapped renewable energy potential.

Wind turbines in New Mexico are mostly horizontal-axis, with the turbine at the top of a tall tower. With a vertical axis, which Vert-I-Go would use in this area, a generator and gearbox can be placed near the ground, so the tower doesn’t need to support it, and it is more accessible for maintenance.

“Our mid-sized, vertical-axis wind turbines are the right fit for Clovis,” Knapton said, “because they solve two stubborn problems that have thwarted past efforts to harness the wind in the area: namely, transmission line dependency and aviation radar interference concerns.

“Because Vert-I-Go wind turbines work with distribution lines, not transmission lines, for grid access, and since our turbines do not rise high enough to cause air base radar interference, we believe our technology paves the way for successful targeted wind farms in Clovis.”

The company anticipates breaking ground in the first half of 2010, but Gentry said he couldn’t give a more specific date. When the wind farm is complete, he envisions less than a month will pass before the plant will produce power and energy companies will want to visit Clovis to see Vert-I-Go’s turbines in demonstration mode.

“There will be a lot of companies that are interested in renewable energy that will be interested in what this company’s doing,” Gentry said. “Clovis will be a centerpiece for that.”

Gentry also feels energy companies will be coming to Clovis over the next few years along with the Tres Amigas project, a superstation that could connect the country’s three largest energy grids.