ALBUQUERQUE – A California renewable energy company says work has been completed on four wind farms in New Mexico with a total capacity of over one gigawatt.
Pattern Energy officials announced Thursday that the Western Spirit Wind project has started commercial operations. The company had touted it as the largest single-phase renewable energy construction in the United States.
Wind farms span three counties in central New Mexico. Although electricity use varies by state and house size, company officials said Western Spirit’s generation capacity can provide enough electricity to meet the needs of approximately 365,000 homes. .
Power purchase agreements are already in place to serve several California utilities, including the Los Angeles Department of Water and Power and the city of San Jose. Some of the electricity will also serve customers in New Mexico.
Western Spirit is expected to provide nearly $ 3 million per year in new property tax revenue for the counties of Guadalupe, Lincoln and Torrance and the two school districts that encompass the region over the next 25 years. Pattern Energy is also forecasting $ 6 billion worth of wind power and related infrastructure projects in New Mexico over the next decade, which will generate more tax revenue.
Pattern CEO Mike Garland said in a statement that the Western Spirit project generated more than 1,100 construction jobs during the 15 months of construction. More than 50 workers will operate and maintain wind facilities in the future.
âWestern Spirit Wind is a revolutionary mega-project that demonstrates that large-scale renewable energy can be developed and built in the United States,â Garland said. âThese projects create significant employment opportunities and local economic investments.
The transmission line that connects the Western Spirit wind farms took significantly longer to construct than the installation of the wind turbines. It took about 11 years before all federal, state and local permits were in place, and officials said streamlining the transportation approval process will be key to accelerating the development of renewables in remote areas like eastern and central New Mexico as more and more utilities face zero-carbon mandates.
In New Mexico, investor-owned utilities are set to be carbon-free by 2045.