A newly constructed wind farm just outside of Corona, New Mexico, will not only help develop a green energy economy for the state, but also provide research and educational opportunities for New Mexico State University students and 4-H youth.
In September 2017, NMSU’s Corona Range and Livestock Research Center, or CRLRC, joined in Pattern Energy’s endeavor to build a wind farm in the Corona area through a public/private partnership. Construction in the Corona area started in November 2020, with major construction on the CRLRC beginning early spring 2021. The CRLRC is based in the NMSU College of Agricultural, Consumer and Environmental Sciences.
“The incorporation of clean energy generation in one of the largest ACES science centers marks the new route we are implementing at the college level, and that is diversification of resources to fund research, and the multidisciplinary use of our science centers with other colleges, such as the engineering college at NMSU,” said College of ACES Dean Rolando Flores. “The new teaching and research opportunities this new approach presents is of paramount importance for NMSU in terms of our goals under the ACES and NMSU LEADS 2025 strategic plans; thus, benefiting New Mexico’s agriculture and New Mexicans in general.”
Once construction is complete, the CRLRC will have 39 turbines installed on ranch property, along with two turbines on state trust land leased for grazing. Ultimately, Pattern Energy’s Western Spirit Transmission area project will consist of 377 turbines, or a total of 1,050 megawatts.
“This partnership highlights some of the excellent work occurring at our research and science stations throughout the state,” said Leslie Edgar, NMSU College of ACES associate dean and director of the Agricultural Experiment Station. “Finding ways to leverage research discovery and creativity while enhancing demonstrations and revenues is important to the vitality of the Agricultural Experiment Station, the research arm of the College of ACES.”
Shad Cox, CRLRC superintendent, said income generated from the life of the wind farm will enhance the center’s mission to provide research and outreach to New Mexico clientele.
“Demonstration of diversified enterprise opportunities for landowners and ranchers, and providing insight into implementation, will assist clientele in future development of a green energy economy for New Mexico,” Cox said.
Funds generated from the wind farm will be used to address deferred maintenance issues; completion of the Southwest Center for Rangeland Sustainability to provide outreach and experiential educational opportunities for 4-H youth, adults and international students in arid lands livestock and rangelands management, along with other disciplines; and to provide an increase in employee base as CRLRC activities increase to meet the demand of its clientele.
“The partnership with Pattern Energy will enhance outreach efforts in clean, renewable energy for income diversification for New Mexico ranchers, as well as the citizens of New Mexico,” Cox said.
The ultimate goal of the farm, Cox said, is to provide opportunities for NMSU students to experience integrated enterprise systems on New Mexico rangelands by providing an experiential learning environment for agricultural and engineering students, and other associated majors systemwide.