A major energy provider in New Mexico announced plans to purchase a wind energy transmission line Wednesday intended to deliver wind-powered electricity across the state when completed in 2021.
Public Service Company of New Mexico (PNM) received approval for the acquisition from the New Mexico Public Regulatory Commission to purchase the Wester Spirit transmission line from Pattern Development and the New Mexico Renewable Energy Transmission Authority (RETA) once construction is complete.
Pattern and RETA were tasked with developing and building the line, and will then sell it to PNM for $285 million, read a PNM news release.
The line will have a capacity of 800 megawatts of new wind energy, delivering wind energy generated by Pattern’s turbine projects in New Mexico’s and could be connected to developments west into Arizona and California.
It will start near Corona, New Mexico and terminate northwest of Albuquerque at PNM’s Rio Puerco substation.
Once complete, the line will represent an investment of more than $1.5 billion in renewable generation and transmission, records show.
“The new transmission line should be good news for Arizona utilities, where price-competitive wind options are more limited,” said Ken Wilson, an engineering fellow with Western Resource Advocates.
“Arizona has excellent solar resources, but a limited wind resource, which is not as competitive in price as the wind that is available in New Mexico. This new transmission line can be used by utilities in Arizona and California to bring New Mexico’s strong wind resources to customers.”
Pattern Development Chief Executive Officer Mike Garland said the project would boost New Mexico’s renewable energy economy and support Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham’s aspiration to raise the state’s renewable energy portfolio.
“Today’s favorable ruling by the New Mexico PRC will help New Mexico unlock its world-class wind resources, and it means Pattern Development is on track to create hundreds of construction jobs next year with a major wind and transmission build-out that is deeply in line with the goals of the Energy Transition Act,” he said.
“This sound decision will keep the state on a path toward becoming a national leader in clean energy. We believe in New Mexico, and we look forward to continued investment and to being part of the economic fabric of the state for years to come.”
PNM President Pat Vincent-Collawn said the project would expand PNM’s transmission grid, and grow renewable energy in New Mexico.
“We are pleased that this project has received the required regulatory approvals and continues to move forward,” he said.
“We remain proud to be part of this project with Pattern and NM RETA and to expand our transmission grid in support of renewable investments that bring new construction jobs and tax revenues to the state and to improve our ability to make New Mexico a leader in clean energy.”
The 165-mile transmission was expected to ultimately carry a capacity of 1,000 megawatts, delivering enough power for 590,000 homes.
The news came months after Lujan Grisham signed into law the Energy Transition Act, which called for an expansion of the state’s renewable portfolio, while aligning it with the Paris Climate Accord and shifting New Mexico to 100 percent carbon-free energy by 2045.
“In every corner of this state, advocates, utilities, young adults, unions, elected officials and families came together to push for and, today, enact this transformational law. The Energy Transition Act fundamentally changes the dynamic in New Mexico,” she said.
“This legislation is a promise to future generations of New Mexicans, who will benefit from both a cleaner environment and a more robust energy economy with exciting career and job opportunities.”
In September, Pattern Development put into service its Grady Wind Facility in Curry County with a capacity of 220 megawatts, representing the third and final phase of Pattern’s 554-megawatt series of wind projects in New Mexico.
That project uses 84 wind turbines with 120-meter rotors, generating enough energy for nearly 90,000 homes.
“The successful completion of Grady Wind represents an important step in New Mexico’s evolution as a major renewable energy producer,” Garland said. “As wind and solar energy development grow throughout the state, New Mexicans will reap the economic benefits.”
In October 2018, the company also received approval to build a group of wind farms known as the Corona Wind Projects and made up of 950-turbines to produce 2,200 megawatts of power to be built near Corona, New Mexico in Lincoln County.
Pattern also acquired the Mesa Canyons Wind Project in May 2018. That project, a 1,000-megawatt development in Lincoln County, could also tie in to the Western Spirit line.
In August, the New Mexico Wind Energy Association ranked New Mexico third in the nation in wind energy development with about 2,774 megawatts of wind energy in construction behind Wyoming’s 4,831 MW and Texas’ 9,015.
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