The Bureau of Land Management, U.S. Department of the Interior has issued its Notice to Proceed to begin constructing Pattern Energy Group’s SunZia Transmission project at the SunZia East Converter Station in Corona, New Mexico.
"The SunZia Transmission Project will accelerate our nation's transition to a clean energy economy by unlocking renewable resources, creating jobs, lowering costs, and boosting local economies," said Secretary of the Interior Deb Haaland. "Through historic investments from President Biden's Investing in America agenda, the Interior Department is helping build modern, resilient climate infrastructure that protects our communities from the worsening impacts of climate change."
The project is a 550-mile ± 525 kV HVDC transmission line, which can transport 3,000 MW of clean, reliable, and affordable electricity across Western states, between central New Mexico and south-central Arizona.
Pattern Energy’s 3,500 MW SunZia Wind project across Torrance, Lincoln, and San Miguel Counties in New Mexico will be constructed together with the transmission project, which will deliver clean power from the wind project.
“More than 2,000 workers will now roll up their sleeves and get to work on America's largest clean energy infrastructure project, harnessing New Mexico's powerful winds to deliver clean power to 3 million Americans," said Hunter Armistead, CEO of Pattern Energy.
Thirty percent of the total project route is made up of federal lands administered by the Bureau of Land Management, Bureau of Reclamation, and U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service. SunZia Transmission has also signed right of way agreements with the New Mexico State Land Office and the Arizona State Land Department to support education and other public institutions.
According to a study conducted by Energy, Economic & Environment Consultants, both the SunZia Transmission and SunZia Wind projects are expected to generate $20.5 billion in total economic benefit, which includes over $8 billion of direct capital investment at no added cost to ratepayers.
The projects are also expected to generate $1.3 billion in fiscal impacts for governments, communities and schools through sales and use taxes, property taxes, community benefit payments and land payments to federal and state agencies.
While SunZia Transmission’s environmental mitigation efforts with key stakeholders have restored many acres of wildlife habitat for emerging technology and long-term conservation research investments, SunZia Wind has also set up environmental best practices to reduce project impacts and study effective habitat restoration strategies in partnership with local and state experts.
"Audubon's collaboration with Pattern Energy exemplifies how clean energy developers and conservation organizations can work together to ensure that transmission projects use the latest data and science to minimize impacts on birds and communities,” said Jon Hayes, Vice President and Executive Director of Audubon Southwest.
"SunZia is our second project partnership with Pattern Energy, following Western Spirit, and together they will be unlocking vast amounts of renewable wind resources and empowering New Mexico to power the west,” said Fernando Martinez, Executive Director of the New Mexico Renewable Energy Transmission Authority.