October 8, 2018 Read More →

New Mexico regulators approve 2,200MW wind project

S&P Global Market Intelligence ($):

New Mexico utility regulators on Oct. 3 agreed to issue a permit for construction for Pattern Energy Group Inc.’s ambitious plan to install 2,200 MW of wind energy capacity across more than 300,000 acres in the east-central part of the state.

The state Public Regulation Commission approved the Corona Wind Projects consisting of up to 950 wind turbines and about 80 miles of 345-kV transmission lines that Pattern Energy subsidiaries propose to install across three counties.

The projects would tie-in to SunZia Transmission’s proposed 520-mile SunZia Southwest Transmission Project at the proposed SunZia East substation near Corona, N.M. The PRC denied approval of SunZia on Sept. 5, deciding it did not have enough information to approve the two 500-kV lines across 320 miles in New Mexico, although the Arizona Corporation Commission in early 2016 approved a permit for the 200-mile stretch that would cross the southeastern portion of that state. Pattern Energy Group LP, known as Pattern Development and a privately held affiliate of publicly traded Pattern Energy Group Inc., is the transmission project’s anchor tenant.

However, the New Mexico regulators rejected the transmission line without prejudice, meaning SunZia can submit a new application, which the developer has said it plans to do. SouthWestern Power Group II LLC is the major partner in the project. MMR Group Inc. is SouthWestern’s parent company.

The SunZia project would be the main path for transmission of energy from the Corona projects, with the aim of selling the power to Arizona, California and possibly Utah. PRC Hearing Examiner Anthony Medeiros on Sept. 26 told the commissioners in a recommended decision that the status of the SunZia project has no bearing legally on whether the commission should approve the wind projects because the developers do not have to show they have a means to deliver their power.

Pattern Energy is developing the wind projects at its own risk, Medeiros said, and the permit to construct can be issued based entirely on whether environmental and land use requirements have been met and whether the plans for the project are of sufficient detail to meet state statutory requirements. Unlike the commission’s conclusion on the transmission project plans, Medeiros said the wind project plans meet the state requirements, and he recommended approval, subject to 26 conditions including compliance with air and water pollution controls and bird protection measures.

More ($): New Mexico approves plans for 2,200 MW of wind capacity

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