Commissioner of New Mexico Public Lands, Stephanie Garcia Richard, executed five leases for the Western Spirit Wind development to Pattern Renewables announced in a news release on June 4.
The winning bid in February at a public auction granted the company the right to develop the land.
The project will see a 76 megawatt wind farm built on 16,442 acres located in Torrance and Lincoln counties.
Pattern paid the State Land Office $395,000 in up-front bids as a requirement of the public auction.
The company was required to provide bonding coverage for the eventual decommissioning of the turbines. Based on provisions of the leases, the Land Office estimates revenue for New Mexico public schools will be over $16 million during the “life of the project.”
“The recent oil crisis, brought on by a global oil price war and compounded by COVID-19, has only strengthened my dedication to helping New Mexico move away from our reliance on fossil fuels. Our public schools win, because this project will directly benefit them financially to the tune of over $16 million. Our state wins, because we create high paying construction jobs, as well as long term jobs managing these sites…we win by making a dent in New Mexico’s carbon emissions, furthering the state’s efforts to be carbon neutral by 2045,” said Richard in release.
Twenty-nine or more wind turbines planned for the site would generate enough to power over 15,000 homes annually. The project will connect to the forthcoming Western Spirit transmission line.
“At the State Land Office, we continue to do our part to diversify the economy by working with renewable energy firms that share our common goal of advancing New Mexico’s renewable energy future,” said Richard.
The Western Spirit project represents the eighth wind energy lease signed by Richard since taking office a year and a half ago. When completed, wind farms on state trust land will help New Mexico lead the way in wind energy generation, stated in release.
“We have over $3 billion investments in the state, possibly doubling this in over the next few years. They are active projects. Currently we have about 2,000 mega watts of wind in the state. It is transmission dependent. In this case it would be wind and solar in New Mexico,” said senior director of western state affairs Tom Darin.
Transmission lines reach into New Mexico from Arizona, Nevada and California.
Current investments are generating about $20 million a year in local taxes and payments to land owners, each year, with the existing wind p, said Darin
“We are looking at tripling these numbers. It is needed heavily on the rural areas in New Mexico. We are actively working with utilities (PNM) driving new renewables for the state,” Darin said.
Combined, the forthcoming Western Spirit, La Joya, Great Divide, and Gladstone wind projects would increase New Mexico’s megawatt capacity by 414 while increasing revenue from renewable projects by over $80 million over the life of the projects, per release.
Richard said the “commitment to renewable energy includes her creation last year of the first ever Office of Renewable Energy at the State Land Office. That office is currently working to process over 40 applications for new solar and wind energy projects on state trust land.”
In fiscal year 2019, the State Land Office earned over $1 billion from leasing state trust lands for a wide variety of uses, including ranching and farming, renewable energy, business development, and mineral development.
These earnings support 22 land trust beneficiaries:
Universities and Colleges
The School for the Deaf
The School for the Blind and Visually Impaired
Water conservation projects
Public building construction and repair
Several of the wind farms being develpoed are located in the general area of Corona in northwest Lincoln County.
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