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East Mountain entities dividing expect wind farm fees

Agencies agree on divvying up money

MORIARTY – The three government agencies that stand to reap a financial windfall from the large El Cabo wind farm in Torrance County essentially have agreed on how they will divvy up the money.

The biggest share, 60 percent of roughly $30 million over 30 years, will go to the Torrance County government. The remaining 40 percent will be divided by the Estancia Municipal School District and Vaughn Municipal Schools.

As of Wednesday, the school districts had not completely come to terms on the arrangement, but another 60-40 split seemed likely, with Vaughn – by far the smaller of the two – getting 60 percent.

El Cabo, with 149 turbines planned for 87,000 private acres and an additional 34,000 acres of state-owned land, would be the largest wind farm in New Mexico.

Last month, the county gave a thumbs up to Iberdrola Renewables, the Spanish company behind El Cabo, by expressing its intent to issue a $450 million industrial bond for the project.

The bond issue represents a big tax incentive to Iberdrola, perhaps as much as $13 million over the first three decades of operations.

Attorneys for the school districts met Tuesday and afterward recognized the need for at least one additional meeting “to discuss how we’re going to move forward,” said Rodney Gabaldon of the Albuquerque law firm Walsh, Anderson, Gallegos, Green and Treviño, which represents the Estancia district. “The 60-40 (with Vaughn) is not set in stone.”

A public auction is scheduled for Sept. 19 at the Torrance County Courthouse for bids for leasing the publicly held portion of the land – more than 52 square miles – 12½ miles northeast of Willard and northwest of Encino.