Powering southern Colorado with wind

Digital Now

WALSENBURG, Colo. — As long as the wind is blowing, these 27 turbines are busy making energy. This 60-megawatt field will produce enough clean energy to power 28 thousand southern Colorado homes per year.

Using Mother Nature to make energy for the future. The Busch Ranch II wind project aims to do just that while helping southern Colorado neighbors lower their electric bills.

“We estimate over the next 25 years for our customers to save 240 million dollars on their energy bills. This is going to benefit all of our southern Colorado customers from Rocky Ford through Pueblo, Cañon City, and Cripple Creek,” said Vance Crocker, Vice President of Black Hills Energy.

This project will help Black Hills Energy reach 30% renewable energy generation across three southern Colorado wind fields. And if you’re driving on Highway 10, you’ll see these turbines hard at work, spinning up to 100 miles per hour on a windy day.

You have to climb 260 feet to get to the top of a wind turbine. One turbine puts out two megawatts of power annually. Crews climb up them on a monthly basis for routine maintenance.

Science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) students from Pueblo Central High School came to the ribbon-cutting. The group also got some hands-on experience learning out in the field. Students learned about renewable energy, how turbines transform wind into energy, and the benefits it has on our planet.

“We are the generation of now, so to speak, so I think it’s really important for as many of us as possible to get involved and try to solve these issues and keep the earth running nice and strong,” said Aaron Guerrero from Pueblo Central High. “Honestly, it just raises my interest in more engineering. I mean, if this is possible, what else is out there,” said Savannah Autobee.

These bright minds are already brainstorming new energy conservation efforts. “We are the future. I mean, we control what we can change, and, being an engineer, there is nothing you can’t do,” said Autobee.

The Busch Ranch II wind project includes 27 Vestas wind turbines. All the components were manufactured at Vestas’ Colorado facilities, including tower sections built at Vestas’ Pueblo campus. The project generated 150 new jobs.

Busch Ranch II, along with Busch Ranch and Peak View farms, will generate a combined 150 MW of wind power, with natural gas and solar power rounding out the southern Colorado grid.

According to the Colorado Energy Office, the wind is the fastest-growing energy resource on the grid. It’s also the states’ predominant renewable resource.

Between 2005 and 2016, wind energy increased from 1.5% to 17.3% of the electricity generated in the state. Wind farms can save billions of gallons of water and reduce our carbon footprint by millions of metric tons.

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