Proposed power plant would be

 

a good neighbor in the county

Editor:

The proposed Valencia Energy Facility, a 280-megawatt power plant located southeast of Belen, N.M., has been the subject of considerable discussion during the past several months. Peoples Energy Resources Corp. believes this project will be an asset to your community by providing clean energy for a rapidly growing area while also providing jobs and generating tax revenues for both the county and Belen schools.

We have found that many people, once they’ve heard all of the facts, agree that the project will be beneficial. During the past few months, residents have had opportunities to meet with company officials to discuss their concerns. In addition, company representatives have met with local community and business organizations to further outline the details of the proposal.

One of the key reasons that the Rio Grande Industrial Park makes sense is because of its designation by Valencia County as the only location properly zoned for heavy industrial uses within the county. Another key reason is that the Rio Grande Industrial Park is located within the Middle Rio Grande Valley, which is an area that continues to experience steady growth in power demand. The area’s population growth has been significant, and we anticipate growth will continue. According to the 2000 U.S. Census figures, in the last 10 years, the Middle Rio Grande Valley’s population increased more than 21 percent — nearly 127,000 people. Valencia County saw its population grow by 46 percent.

The Valencia Energy Facility would generate both short-term and long-term economic dividends to the area by providing reliable electricity to meet the growing electrical demand and significant revenue for the county, as well as providing both construction and permanent jobs to the community.

The facility will require up to 150 workers during peak construction. Once on line, the Valencia Energy Facility will employ eight to 10 operational staff that could earn an average annual salary above $40,000.

With the plant’s construction, the county and Belen school district would experience significant increases in tax revenues. The estimated tax benefits over the first 10 years would be up to $6.5 million for the county and about $3.5 million for the Belen Consolidated Schools.

Peoples Energy is committed to constructing a high-quality project that meets or exceeds all applicable rules and regulations for a facility of this type. We will install clean-burning natural gas General Electric turbines, which are equipped with state-of-the-art pollution control features. The recent issuance of an air permit by the New Mexico Environment Department confirms our belief that the power plant would not endanger the environment or the health of Valencia County residents.

Peoples Energy is committed to building a plant that will use a fraction of the water typically required by conventional power plants. In fact, on an annual basis, our plant will use less than 100-acre feet of water, about the same amount required to irrigate 50 acres of alfalfa.

At Peoples Energy, we have a 150-year tradition of being a good corporate neighbor and we take this commitment very seriously. We hope to become an active, positive member of your community as well.

Cameron Epard

Director, Power Generation

Peoples Energy

Resources Corp.

Many aided in family stay

Editor,

This letter is in reference to the visit from the Graziosos (the family of a man who died in the World Trade Center on Sept. 11) to New Mexico. There are so many people to thank who made their first visit to New Mexico possible and enjoyable.

First of all, I would like to thank the parents and students in my class for the 2001-02 school year. Without their support and excitement, our adoption of the Graziosos would not have been possible. Cathy Pike and her family from Katherine Gallegos Elementary were wonderful at putting me in touch with the Graziosos after Sept. 11.

Second, I would like to thank the media, in particular: Jennifer Harmon of the News-Bulletin; Tara King of the Albuquerque Journal South; Jay Flores of the Albuquerque Journal South; Tony Lynn and Myles of the Big I 107.9; Steve Stucker and John Storey of KOB TV 4; Kiet Do, Kate Godwin and Joseph Lynch of KOAT 7; Mike Powers, Derek Sciba and Andy Smith of KRQE 13. Without the willingness of the media to tell our wonderful story, we could not have done all we did.

Third, I would like to thank the businesses that made our fund-raising possible. Bohanan-Huston in Albuquerque and Wal-Mart in Belen allowed us to hold fund-raisers at their businesses. Tamaya Hyatt, Journal Pavilion, Sunset Foods, Scent Creations, Henrietta’s, Moe’s, Ribs, K-Bob’s, The Branch, General Mills, My Car Care Automotive and the Isleta Golf Course all provided prizes for our raffle. Many residents of the Los Lunas area participated by purchasing raffle tickets.

I would also like to thank all those who made all the activities possible during the Graziosos visit. Robert Auge and Dave Spiers of Auge’s in Belen donated the use of a van to transport the Graziosos during their visit. Stephanie and Tim Finly of Comfort Inn in Los Lunas donated a room for all five nights of the Graziosos visit. Mr. Bentley Streete of Enchanted Winds Balloon Company and his staff donated a two-hour balloon ride Sunday morning. Father Rick Zerwas, his staff and the San Clemente Catholic Church welcomed the Graziosos into their parish. Mr. and Mrs. Eddie Ramirez and their staff at Bristles Art Supply gave all the kids art lessons Sunday afternoon. The Village of Los Lunas and Fiesta Tent Rentals helped with the tables, chairs and tent for our barbeque. Troy and Triana Kennington of Just 4 Fun helped with a jumper to entertain the kids at the barbecue. Ms. Eileen Lee, master massage therapist, donated a massage to Tina Sunday afternoon. Sonic Drive-In of Los Lunas donated all the paper products and condiments for the barbecue as well as coupons for Tina and the kids to use for meals. The Sandia Tramway and High Finance Restaurant gave us special rates on the Tram ride and meals at the top on Monday. Ray Darnell of the Albuquerque Zoological and Biological Park gave us special group rates to enter both attractions on Tuesday. Jamie at Dion’s pizza gave us a wonderful tour of their restaurant and the kids got Dion’s T-shirts with lunch on Tuesday. The Indian Pueblo Cultural Center made the group wonderful Indian tacos for lunch on Wednesday. Professor Pat Decker and her staff at Explora showed us a wonderful time at their museum Wednes-day afternoon. The group had a wonderful time bowling at Bosque Farms Bowl Wednesday evening. All the children enjoyed “All Dogs Go to Heaven II,” thanks to Kathy Vigil and the Starlight Cinema, on Thursday morning.

Finally, I would like to thank several individual people. Mildred Chavez, principal at Katherine Gallegos Elementary, and Debora Leyba, secretary at KGE, gave a tremendous amount of support throughout our whole project, which began last October. Bob Whorton and Nancy Seemann, Los Lunas School Board members, have offered very kind words of encouragement and praise to our project. Mr. Danny Burnett, superintendent of the Los Lunas Schools, did a wonderful job of drawing the winning raffle tickets. The Los Lunas Schools business office was very supportive with all the money issues. I appreciate Gerard Saiz, Los Lunas City Councilman, for attending the barbecue to meet the Graziosos. My own family allowed me to pursue a very important project.

As you can see, many, many people were a part of this wonderful experience. I hope that I did not leave anyone out. It is something that my students will always remember and appreciate. Out of a horrible tragedy, our community bonded together to help total strangers. These strangers have now become our friends.

Karin Trujillo

Teacher

Katherine Gallegos Elementary

Los Lunas

Reject all power plants

Editor:

Newspaper articles constantly remind us of the serious drought conditions in our state. Our “monsoon” season won’t really make a major difference in how dry we are. Geographically, Valencia County is essentially a desert with a river running through it (not a very full one, either).

Reputable data suggests the water needs of Valencia County cannot support significant population growth in the next 10 to 20 years. With disregard for these facts, our local government continues to entertain proposals for gas- and oil-fired power plants, with support and encouragement from the local chambers of commerce. It seems they would sacrifice the future of Valencia County for a fist full of dollars now.

We need to say no to power plants in Valencia County, period. Our legislators need to have the foresight and the guts to make that happen, and the business community needs to sponsor responsible growth that does not deplete our resources and pollute our environment.

I would rather have a small growth rate than breathe the air we experienced recently from the Arizona wildfires. I mention that because it (just like the power plants) was within Envi-ronmental Protection Agency guidelines for particulate matter.

The only energy development allowed to take place in Valencia County (and all of New Mexico, for that matter) should be solar, wind or geothermal. Anything else (coal, gas, oil) that already exists, we have to live with, but it is lunacy to add more to pollute our air and deplete our precious water resources.

Looking at the world, it seems that short-sighted self-interest and greed are the reasons behind most decisions. In the midst of that insanity, we can make sane and rational decisions here in Valencia County. We must, for our future and that of our children, say no to any coal, gas or oil electrical power plants in Valencia County. The decision that shapes that future is now.

Richard Long

Adelino

What about prairie dogs?

Editor:

There is much in the paper these days about water and habitat for some small fish that most of us will never even see.

In Los Lunas, there is a small prairie dog community located … on Carson Drive. Unfortunately, there are car and truck tire tracks through this community.

It seems that these prairie dogs are endangered and need protecting as well as being a tourist attraction and an area of interest to locals for their entertainment and education of their children.

Bob Niehoff

Los Lunas

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The Valencia County News-Bulletin is a locally owned and operated community newspaper, dedicated to serving Valencia County since 1910 through the highest journalistic and professional business standards. The VCNB is published weekly on Thursdays, including holidays both in print and online.