Palmas Altas wind farm beginning to take shape

HARLINGEN — Foundations for 46 wind turbine towers are now being installed in the Palmas Altas wind farm east of Rio Hondo.

These structures have a high-tech twist, say officials with the wind farm’s owner, Acciona Energy.

“We’re doing a kind of innovative foundation process with this project using soil anchors … which allows us to get a strong foundation for our wind turbines here in Cameron County where the water table is so high,” David Jakubiak, spokesman for Acciona, said.

“The soil anchors go down deep into the ground and add concrete to that with the rebar. It’s a concept that’s used in tower construction, so big hotel towers you see go up use similar technology.”

The soil anchors are 40 to 60 feet deep, and not only solidify the wind turbine foundations but allow construction crews to create a smaller footprint for the platforms.

The $200 million Palmas Altas wind farm, which will have a capacity for 144.9 megawatts, is Acciona Energy’s second in Cameron County.

When Palmas Altas is completed, Acciona will own and operate nine wind farms in the United States. In addition to the nearby San Roman wind farm, a 93-megawatt facility, the company has three wind farms in Oklahoma, two in the Dakotas, one in Illinois and one in Iowa.

About 170 construction workers will be employed during the building phase for Palmas Altas. When complete, a 10-person operations team will staff the new wind farm.

The wind turbines installed in Palmas Altas will be Nordex’s AW125/3150 model with a rotor diameter of 410 feet and will be mounted on steel towers which will be 287 feet tall at the hub.

“About 300 feet up to the nacelle (the housing for the generator and gearbox) and then another bit more to the tip of the blade point so give or take 400 feet,” Jakubiak said.

The company plans to start installing the mammoth turbine blades within the next couple of months. The project’s completion date is November 2019.

The energy produced by the Palmas Altas wind farm will be sold in the ERCOT-South Texas wholesale market.

Palmas Altas Wind Farm

LOCATION — East of Rio Hondo

GENERATION — 144.9 megawatts capacity

TURBINES — 46

TYPE — Nordex AW3150

COST — $200 million

CONSTRUCTION JOBS — 170

PERMANENT JOBS — 10

STARTUP DATE — November 2019