2017-08-09 / Front Page

More windmills going up

BY ALLEN ESSEX
Reporter

More wind turbines have sprouted up near San Perlita, among 76 to be completed by the end of 2017, an official of E.ON Climate & Renewables said.

But there’s more! The company is planning two more phases in addition to existing turbines that are about five years old. When all four projects are done, there will be about 400 E.ON turbines in Willacy County with a few more in Cameron County, said Rich Saunders of E.ON’s Southwest Development Team.

E.ON has invested heavily in Willacy wind power, he said. “First phase (Magic Valley) was 203 megawatts and $234.7 million investment,” Saunders said. “The current phase will be 228 megawatts and more than $240 million.”

The third phase between Willamar and Lyford and slightly further west and south will be another 200 megawatts. The third phase will start construction in 2018-2019. The fourth phase will be 300 megawatts.

Willacy County Judge Aurelio “Keter” Guerra said that, although wind turbines will not provide jobs after they are built, there will be $250 million to $270 million added to the county’s property value which will greatly benefit school districts as well as the county in property tax revenue in future years.

The second phase project just started near San Perlita is scheduled for completion by the end of the year, Saunders said.

The first phase of “about 45 percent of the work force is from the (Rio Grande) Valley area” he said. “About $4.66 million in products are being purchased in the local area, but that doesn’t include hotels, meals and those expenses,” he said. Gravel, concrete and other construction supplies as well as fuel are purchased locally.

Also, Duke Energy currently has 171 turbines in Willacy County in its Los Vientos I and Los Vientos II projects near Sebastian.

Wind turbine construction first started in Willacy County in 2012.

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