Renewable-energy developer Pattern Energy Group on Jan. 4 said it began construction on the first of four planned New Mexico wind farms and a 150-mile transmission line that will deliver more than 1,050 MW of clean power throughout the Southwest.
The Western Spirit wind projects, located in the central New Mexico counties of Guadalupe, Torrance and Lincoln, are expected to be in operation by the end of the year, according to a Pattern news release. They will interconnect with Public Service Company of New Mexico's system via the 345-kV Western Spirit Transmission line, under joint development by Pattern and the New Mexico Renewable Energy Transmission Authority. General Electric's Energy Financial Services division underwrote and committed to providing tax equity financing to the project; GE's energy consulting arm is providing grid modeling and analysis to support the line, substations, series capacitor bank and wind projects, GE Renewable Energy said in a Jan. 4 news release.
"We are encouraged by the progress made on the Western Spirit Transmission line [that will] enable New Mexico to expand its renewable energy potential across the PNM electric grid," PNM said in an emailed statement.
Three of the four Western Spirit wind projects were originally part of Pattern's Corona portfolio, spokesman Matt Dallas said in an email to California Energy Markets (see CEM No. 1559). The projects will consist of 377 GE wind turbines ranging from 2.3 to 2.8 MW. The turbines will be mounted on towers of varying heights to optimize wind capture and deliver enough power to serve the equivalent of 590,000 homes, according to GE's release.
Pattern Turbine No. 1
The first turbine at the Western Spirit Wind projects being erected in central New Mexico, January 2021.
"GE's 2 MW platform is extremely well suited to the region, with [98-percent-plus] availability to help ensure the reliability of sustainable, affordable, renewable energy delivery to the region," Tim White, CEO of GE Renewable Energy for Onshore Americas, said in the release.
Pattern has more than 3,000 MW of additional wind projects in New Mexico slated to interconnect by 2024 via the SunZia line, Dallas said. The 520-mile, 500-kV SunZia will deliver power from both New Mexico and Arizona and is under development by the SouthWestern Power Group, with Pattern as the anchor tenant (see CEM No. 1591).
Pattern also operates a combined 544 MW of wind resources in New Mexico, with the Broadview and Grady projects that deliver power to Southern California Edison and the Sacramento Municipal Utility District via Pattern's 345-kV Western Interconnect line.
Much of the power from Western Spirit's two largest wind projects has already been committed to California entities via power-purchase agreements with Pattern. Community choice aggregator San Jose Clean Energy on Nov. 12 signed a 15-year agreement for 225 MW of output from the 324-MW Clines Corners facility. The Los Angeles Department of Water & Power in October received approval from the City Council to buy output from the 349-MW Red Cloud project via a 20-year PPA established between Pattern and the Southern California Public Power Authority (see CEM No. 1619). LADWP also has two five-year extension options, Harrison Wollman, a spokesman for the LA mayor's office, said in an email.
"We are working on additional PPAs and will announce those in time," Dallas said. "Though the first point of interconnection will be PNM, Pattern Energy has capacity rights to deliver the power to many other parts of the existing grid."
"Tapping some of the best wind in the world, the Western Spirit Wind projects have a powerful generation profile with an evening peak that is a perfect complement to daytime solar and displaces the need for more expensive, ramping fossil fuels," Pattern CEO Mike Garland said in the release. The Western Spirit Wind projects represent the largest single-phase construction of renewable power in U.S. history, he said.
In total, Pattern Energy has more than 4,500 MW of New Mexico wind energy and the three associated transmission lines in operation or under development. This represents an estimated $9.5-billion investment and the largest clean-power portfolio in the state, Dallas told CEM.