Groundbreaking ceremony was held Friday in central New Mexico for Pattern Energy’s SunZia transmission and wind project, reportedly “the largest clean energy infrastructure project in U.S. history.” The 550-mile high-voltage transmission line will begin near Corona in Lincoln County southeast of Albuquerque and extend to south central Arizona. Pattern Energy said it will construct about 1,000 wind turbines in Lincoln, Torrance and San Miguel counties that will produce 3,500 megawatts of wind energy – enough power to meet the needs of three million people – to markets in Arizona and California.
The three-year construction project is expected to go online in 2026. Pattern Energy said it will build the transmission line and wind farms simultaneously. Hunter Armistead, CEO, said, “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 three million people.” Sen. Martin Heinrich (D-NM) and U.S. interior secretary Debra Haaland, former U.S. representative from New Mexico, were among about 100 people who attended the ceremony near Corona.
Pattern Energy said it will spend $8 billion to build the system, which is expected to have an economic impact of $20.5 billion over the 30-year life of the project, including $1.3 billion in local, state and federal government tax revenues. Southwestern Power Group began working on the project in 2008 and sold the rights last year to Pattern Energy.