By - Jim Vess

New Mexico regulators OK 2,200-MW wind project covering 300,000 acres

Energize Weekly, October 10, 2018

A plan to install 2,200 megawatts (MW) of wind generation—about 950 wind turbines—in central and eastern New Mexico was approved by state regulators on Oct. 3.

The New Mexico Public Regulation Commission (PRC), on a 4-to-0 vote, gave the green light to San Francisco-based Pattern Energy Group’s Corona Wind project.

In addition to the turbines, the project includes 80 miles of 345-kV transmission lines that Pattern Energy subsidiaries plan to install across three counties. The project will cover about 300,000 acres. Pattern Energy said that the project will create more than a thousand construction jobs.

The projects are expected to be completed by the end of 2020 and would tie into the proposed 520-mile SunZia Southwest Transmission Project near Corona, N.M.

In September, the PRC rejected the SunZia plan, without prejudice, citing insufficient detail on routes and land-use issues. A company spokesman said that the SunZia would refile its application.

Environmental groups voiced concern that the lines were too close to the Bosque del Apache National Wildlife Refuge near San Antonio, N.M, home to migrating cranes and geese.

Initially, the U.S. Department of Defense (DOD) had opposed the lines crossing over the White Sands Missile Range. The DOD dropped its opposition after SunZia agreed to bury five miles of the line.

The SunZia project would be the main transmission link from the Corona projects, with the aim of selling the power to Arizona, California and Utah.

In August, Pattern Energy broke ground on its 221-megawatt Grady Wind farm in Curry County, N.M. Pattern Energy will own the Grady Wind facility and operate it in conjunction with Pattern’s neighboring 324-MW Broadview Wind facilities.

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