Air Force Training Interferes With Wind Farm Plans

Feb 28, 2018

The State Land Office has been working with a private company on a wind energy project in Torrance County for years. But more than half of the wind farm can’t be built because the Air Force uses the area for low-altitude flight training.

One-hundred and fourteen wind turbines were planned for a big swath of Torrance County on state-owned land. Land Commissioner Aubrey Dunn said it came as a surprise when the Air Force objected to the project—effectively nixing more than half of the turbines.

"Probably the change in administrations has made it tougher on renewable resources locating in New Mexico," said Dunn. "You know, as a state, we should be able to use our natural resources." 

Scaling back the project will mean the state’s public schools and Carrie Tingley Hospital won’t receive an estimated $25 million, according to the State Land Office. So Dunn is calling for compensation from the U.S. Air Force. He said the state will likely have to file a lawsuit.

The wind farm would also have created 300 jobs, many in construction, and Dunn said this cuts into half of those, too. He added that there are implications for private landowners in the area, who may not realize they won’t be able to build turbines on their own property.