Construction on the $385 million La Joya Wind Farm in Torrance County is well underway.
Avangrid Renewables announced last week that construction for the 35,000-acre wind farm began in February and is expected to wrap up by the end of the year.
State Land Commissioner Stephanie Garcia-Richard approved a lease on 7,000 acres of state land for part of the project last fall.
The Oregon-based renewable energy firm has hired 148 temporary workers so far, according to Avangrid’s communications manager Morgan Pitts. He added that the site expects to hire more workers when turbine deliveries begin in June.
Mark Stacy, Avandrid’s director of business development, told The Independent last October they plan to hire between 350 and 400 temporary construction workers, with a full-time crew of 10 to 15 workers managing the project after construction.
“Actual numbers will be determined to reduce COVID-related health risks,” Pitts said. “We have changed work plans to reduce the risks to employees on site. This includes social distancing, restrictions on travel and temperature monitoring.”
The 10 to 15 full-time workers managing the facility after construction is still a part of the plan, according to Pitts.
The project was paid for by an industrial revenue bond (IRB) issued by Torrance County in October.
While the county isn’t shelling out cash for the La Joya construction, it is looking to collect on yearly payments of $765,000 to $994,500, depending on the wind farm’s output, according to the bond.
An IRB allows expensive projects like the La Joya to go forward, according to Torrance County Manager Wayne Johnson. “Right now, there’s a big push towards renewable energy, this is one way we can help that process,” he said.
For this energy IRB, Torrance County will collect 65 percent of the yearly payments, while Estancia School District will get the remaining 35 percent. That’s all new revenue for the county and the school district, according to Johnson.
Over its lifespan, La Joya is expected to generate $41 million for state schools, according to New Mexico Land Commissioner Stephanie Garcia-Richards.
The finished project will feature 111 turbines, generating 306 megawatts at full blast, according to the state land commissioner’s office.
The neighboring El Cabo Wind Farm, also operated by Avangrid, generates 298 megawatts. That project cost around $500 million, according to Pitts.
The La Joya project is part of a power purchasing agreement with Facebook in Los Lunas. That means the megawatts generated at La Joya will power the Facebook facility in Valencia County.