Pattern Energy’s SunZia Transmission project has received unanimous approval from the Arizona Corporation Commission (ACC) on its recent Certificate of Environmental Compatibility application, representing the completion of the AZ state permitting process. Pattern Energy also announced that its SunZia Wind Projects received two separate unanimous approvals from the New Mexico Public Regulatory Commission related to its more than 3,500 megawatt (MW) SunZia Wind project in central New Mexico. The projects continue to work with federal agencies, including the Bureau of Land Management (BLM), as well as local jurisdictions and stakeholders, to finalise remaining approvals to allow construction on the projects to begin on schedule in mid-2023.
The SunZia Wind project represents over 3,500 MW of new renewable generation located in Torrance, Lincoln, and San Miguel Counties, New Mexico. It will represent the largest wind project in the Western Hemisphere. SunZia Transmission is a 550-mile ± 525 kV high-voltage direct current (HVDC) transmission line between central New Mexico and south-central Arizona, with the capacity to transport 3,000 MW of clean, renewable energy. Together, SunZia Wind and Transmission comprise the largest renewable energy infrastructure project in U.S. history, with a total investment of more than $8 billion and enough energy to power the needs of more than 3 million Americans. Both projects are privately funded and will deliver over $1 billion in estimated direct economic benefits to governments, communities, schools, and private landowners across Arizona and New Mexico.
The SunZia Wind and SunZia Transmission projects have been developed with a deep commitment to local community engagement and environmental stewardship. A key initiative for SunZia has been following through on an extended engagement with local, regional, and national conservation stakeholders. As a result of this commitment and consultation, SunZia Transmission is setting a precedent with a gold standard in environmental mitigation projects developed hand-in-hand with the environmental community. SunZia Wind has established robust environmental best practices to reduce project impacts and study effective habitat restoration strategies in partnership with local and state experts.
“We thank Arizona and New Mexico for welcoming SunZia Transmission and SunZia Wind,” said Mike Garland, CEO of Pattern Energy. “The unanimous decision by the ACC to grant a Certificate of Environmental Compatibility for the SunZia Transmission line represents a major milestone towards the completion of this project. We are excited to get to work on the revolutionary SunZia Transmission line, which will be the conduit for the largest wind project in U.S. history, our 3,500+ MW SunZia Wind facility in New Mexico. Once complete, these projects will combine to increase the reliability of the western grid, create good jobs, and bring millions of dollars in economic benefits to Arizona and New Mexico. We look forward to continuing to work with federal agencies and local jurisdictions to finalise remaining approvals for construction to begin in 2023.”
“This project is of great economic benefit with more than 2,000 construction jobs and up to 150 permanent jobs, which for our rural communities is a lifeline,” said Mignonne Hollis, Executive Director of Arizona Regional Economic Development Foundation. “It’s vital for our county, which continues to see a population decline, to have stable jobs come into our region.”
“SunZia is proof that New Mexico is leading the charge in the clean energy transition,” said U.S. Senator Martin Heinrich. “Once completed, this project will result in the largest wind farm in the Western Hemisphere, producing thousands of construction jobs and delivering billions in private capital investments that will ignite rural economic development across the Southwest.”
Originally approved in 2015, SunZia Transmission’s route was adjusted due to collaboration with the Department of Defense and White Sands Missile Range while also taking advantage of the opportunity to partially parallel the existing Western Spirit Transmission line for 35 miles, minimising environmental impact along the route. Final project approvals, including the BLM Record of Decision, are anticipated to be issued by April 2023.
Throughout the development process, the SunZia Wind and Transmission Projects have worked closely with the public, BLM, landowners, ranchers, and numerous wildlife conservation agencies, such as the Audubon Society and Defenders of Wildlife, to foster productive dialogue about the environmental review of these projects, listen to concerns and recommendations, and incorporate feedback from these communities to make the projects more environmentally compatible as a result of this engagement.
Image source: Courtesy of Pattern Energy
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