Cannon president explores plans for record wind farm
Windmills will dwarf those found around Palm Springs
In light of last week’s announcement that Del Mar-based Cannon Power Group will be the lead developer on one of the largest wind farms ever constructed in North America, company President Gary Hardke spent time answering questions from the Del Mar Times.
Plans are to break ground in the next 12 months on a Baja California wind farm consisting of roughly 500 wind turbines that could ultimately power parts of Mexico, California and Arizona.
The 1,000-megawatt, 140-square mile farm, known as the Aubanel Wind Project, will be located 60 miles east of San Diego near the town of La Rumorosa. The $1 billion project is expected to eventually provide enough clean energy power for 250,000 households.
Q: Did you have to research how much wind goes through down there? Is it risky in terms of the weather? How did that figure into your plans?
A: We’ve been conducting wind studies in that area for the last 10 or 12 years, so we’ve got a very, very detailed measurement program with many, many anemometers, and one thing that’s been interesting that we’ve found out is that sometimes you hear about wind projects producing power in the middle of the night when there’s not that much demand. Sometimes you hear that. In the case of this project, the demographics, so to speak, of the wind are that it peaks during the Mexico peak power period. It really fits the demand pattern very, very well.
Q: Was there a lot of competition for this? Did you go through a lot to secure the land?
A: It took us quite a while, a number of years to assemble all the land. We had developed a relatively adjacent project that’s right on the boarder on the Mexico side that we had sold to Sempra a number of years ago and then we continued on our own developing, assembling this large site that we’ve now leased.
Q: There have been for a while a lot of windmills along the road to Palm Desert. Did your company take anything from that in its design?
A: Projects started going in with the real small turbines back in the early 1980s, and yes we developed a couple large projects there. The project in Mexico will not look anything like it. One turbine of the size that we’d be putting up in Mexico is equal to about 25 or 30 of those small turbines you see in Palm Springs.
Q: What is the current situation in terms of power in Mexico?
A: In Mexico, somewhat surprisingly, power prices are higher than they are in the United States particularly for commercial and industrial customers. So our pricing is very competitive with fossil fuel generated power prices.
Q: What would happen after the last phase is completed in the next three to four years? How do you get connected with people?
A: What we would end up doing is we would enter long-term, like 20-year power purchase agreements that would go on for an extended period of time and then we would continue to own and operate the projects on a going forward basis.
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