Energy company breaks ground for wind farm

CNJ staff photo: Liliana Castillo Abundant Energy Chief Executive Officer Kurt Knapton explains how wind turbines will be built on the company’s six-acre piece of land south of Clovis after a ground breaking ceremony Wednesday.

By Liliana Castillo: CNJ staff writer

A wind turbine company broke ground for a five-megawatt wind farm and manufacturing plant south of Clovis on Wednesday.

Vert-I-Go Wind L.L.C., a subsidiary of Plano, Texas-based Abundant Energy, purchased six acres of land from the city of Clovis just south of the city landfill in January and hopes to built one turbine per acre, according to Abundant Energy Chief Executive Officer Kurt Knapton.

“This is an important milestone in our continued progress,” Knapton said of the ground breaking.

The wind farm will create six jobs initially and 60 by 2013.

The event was attended by about 55 area residents and officials.

Vert-I-Go builds midsize vertical-axis wind turbines which are different from most wind turbines in New Mexico which are mostly horizontal-axis. Knapton said the turbines will also connect to the energy grid by distribution lines, instead of transmission lines likes most turbines.

Knapton said vertical-axis allows for a gearbox and generator to be on the ground.

“It’s an advantage in both maintenance and operation,” he said.

Knapton said the first turbine will be built in phases and is expected to be finished in time to take advantage of winter, the windiest season.

He said the company used multi-year studies by the New Mexico State University to configure the turbines to take full advantage of the area’s wind patterns.

He said more turbines will be built as funds are available. The company purchased city land with the option to buy 34 more acres.

“Nationally, there’s not a lot of economic development going on and there is here in Clovis and that’s a great thing,” Mayor Gayla Brumfield said.

State Rep. Anna Crook, R-Clovis, said she’s excited to see economic development on the east side of the state.

State Sen. Clint Harden, R-Clovis, said he’s looking forward to the manufacturing aspect.

The company has leased an 11,000 square foot building in Clovis that will be used as an assembly facility.

“It’s a new dollar…and its manufacturing that doesn’t use a lot of water,” Harden said.