Xcel Energy has awarded a $25,000 grant to Mesalands Community College in Tucumcari to support the continued development of Mesalands’ Wind Energy Technology Program, which in turn supports the region’s growing clean energy economy.
Mesalands, through its North American Wind Research and Training Center, is home to the Wind Energy Technology program, which provides real-world training experience on wind turbines. The college owns a working wind turbine known as the “Highest Classroom in the World” that is dedicated to training and research, allowing students to climb the tower and perform maintenance on the General Electric 1.5-megawatt ESS wind turbine that also powers the facility.
“Mesalands is providing a great service to the region’s growing wind energy industry,” said David Essex, manager for Community and Economic Development in Clovis, N.M. “Xcel Energy is investing heavily in an updated power grid and is adding a large amount of clean energy resources such as wind energy, and we need partners such as Mesalands that provide the skilled labor to sustain this growth.”
Mesalands will use the grant funding for scholarships and other incentives to attract more students to the program.
According to the American Wind Energy Association, New Mexico has 1,682 megawatts of installed wind energy capacity, ranking the state at No. 15 in the nation in wind capacity. Xcel Energy will help solidify New Mexico’s position as a wind leader once the company completes the planned Sagamore Wind Project near Portales, N.M. – the state’s largest wind farm to date – in 2020. Sagamore is one of two large wind facilities the company has been approved to build. The other facility is the Hale Wind Project near Plainview, Texas, which will be in service in 2019.