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Wind Farms Propel Willacy County Economy

Turbines from one of E-On wind farms near San Perlita west of Raymondville generating power for homes in Central Texas. Photo: Tony Vindell/LFN

by Tony Vindell/LFN

About a half dozen wind farms are located in the Rio Grande Valley today with Willacy County having two of the largest ones.

They are E-On Climates & Renewables and Duke Energy. A third one is in the early stages of being launched.

E-On and Duke are helping propel the economy of Willacy County, a predominantly agricultural region.

Just recently, E-On held a grand opening of its second wind farm north of Texas Highway 186 between Raymondville and San Perlita.

And to mark the completion of the project, the company and the constructor in charge of building the windfarm gave a show of support to the community by donating $115,000 to the Willacy County Emergency Medical Services.

County, business and company representatives met in the San Perlita Community Center to witness the two events which drew plenty of applause by those present.

Rich Saunders, a spokesman with E-On, said a wind farm such as theirs contributes to a county like Willacy.

“We estimate that $7.2 million was spent locally,” he said. “We hired about 40 percent of the labor force from the Valley.”

Willacy County Judge Aurelio “Keter” Guerra said windfarms are tremendous projects.

He thanked the landowners who allowed wind mills on their properties and the windfarm for helping the economy, particularly since the closing of Wal-Mart and of the biggest prison at the jail complex east of Raymondville.

The $115,000 donation made to EMS will go toward the purchase of a new ambulance.

Frank Torres, its director, said it costs about $400,000 to buy a new ambulance completely equipped and ready to go.

“We have six ambulances, but one is a reserve,” he said. “We need a new one”

As to the donation, Torres said, “It’s $115,000 we don’t have to come up with.”

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