ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. (AP) — A California-based renewable energy developer announced on July 18 that it has acquired a transmission line project that will link its massive wind farms in east-central New Mexico with more populated markets across the West.
Pattern Energy already has invested billions in its infrastructure in New Mexico, and company officials said the SunZia transmission line will enable access to more than 3,000 MW of wind power that would be capable of meeting the needs of more than 2.5 million people.
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Permitting for the line has been in the works for years. Once complete, the bi-directional high-voltage line will span 550 miles (885 kilometers) from New Mexico to Arizona.
Pattern Energy said it acquired the project from SouthWestern Power Group, a subsidiary of MMR Group, Inc. The price was not disclosed, but Pattern Energy said the transmission line along with the planned SunZia wind farm would represent an $8 billion investment.
Both projects are privately funded, according to Pattern Energy.
Construction is expected to begin next year, with the transmission line coming online in 2025 and the wind farm in 2026.
Pattern CEO Mike Garland called SunZia a “clean power superhighway.”
“We are creating and implementing the largest clean energy infrastructure project in American history, demonstrating the vast potential of New Mexico’s wind power and the regions’ ability to bring large interstate infrastructure to reality,” he said in a statement.Pattern Energy’s Western Spirit Wind facilities in New Mexico (Source: Pattern Energy).
Once operational, up to 150 permanent staff will run and maintain the two projects.
Originally approved in 2015, the route of the transmission line was adjusted after military officials voiced concerns about the project affecting missions at White Sands Missile Range. Environmentalists also raised questions about the project’s effects on birds and other wildlife.
Final government approvals are expected to be issued by next spring.