A massive wind power project in New Mexico will include a transmission line to deliver the installation’s electricity across the southwestern U.S.
Pattern Energy Group, a California company that develops renewable energy projects globally, on May 4 said it has chosen Hitachi Energy and Quanta Services to build the SunZia Transmission and Wind project, which will provide access to more than 3,500 MW of wind power generation.
Quanta will supply what the company calls its turnkey solution for the 550-mile, 525 kV high-voltage direct current (HVDC) line. Blattner Co., part of Quanta, was selected to provide equipment for the SunZia wind farm and associated switchyard, which includes the installation of more than 900 turbines, 10 substations, multiple operations and maintenance facilities, and more than 100 miles of wind generation transmission lines, according to Pattern Energy.
Hitachi Energy will supply HVDC converter stations, along with its HVDC Light technology, and MACH digital control platform, in the transmission project. Hitachi’s technology enables efficient transfer and integration of large volumes of renewable energy over long distances.
Changing Renewable Energy Landscape
“The SunZia project is changing the landscape for renewable energy, and we need to ensure we have the best team in place to help bring it to life,” said Hunter Armistead, CEO of Pattern Energy. “We are selecting two industry leaders—Quanta and Hitachi Energy—to help build SunZia and deliver a world-class clean energy project that New Mexico, Arizona, and the entire country can be proud of. Along with enough clean power for 3 million Americans, SunZia is bringing a far-reaching economic boost to the region, including the creation of over 2,000 new jobs and $20.5 billion dollars in expected economic impact.”
The SunZia Transmission project will utilize the same corridor as the Western Spirit Transmission line, which was developed and constructed by Pattern Energy. The 1,050-MW Western Spirit Wind farm was a POWER Top Plant in 2022.
Pattern Energy has targeted 2026 for the start of SunZia’s commercial operations.
“We are proud to be advancing a sustainable energy future for all in the southwestern United States, enabling Pattern Energy to integrate emission-free electricity into the regional grid serving the southwest,” said Niklas Persson, managing director of Hitachi Energy’s Grid Integration business. “Our market-leading HVDC technologies combined with our execution expertise is what makes us the partner of choice to help the U.S. to achieve its carbon-neutral targets, by efficiently and reliably maximizing its renewable energy resources.”
Construction May Start in 2023
Pattern Energy on Thursday said principals for the New Mexico projects continue to work with federal agencies, including the Bureau of Land Management, as well as local officials to finalize remaining approvals for SunZia, with a goal of beginning construction this year.
The SunZia Wind project is spread across Torrance, Lincoln, and San Miguel counties in New Mexico. The transmission line will run between central New Mexico and south-central Arizona, with customers in California also having access to its electricity via transmission infrastructure to that state.
Pattern Energy has said the SunZia Transmission and SunZia Wind projects are expected to generate $20.5 billion in total economic benefit to the region, which includes more than $8 billion of direct capital investment, according to a study from research firm Energy, Economic & Environment Consultants LLC.
“Quanta’s selection for these projects builds on a long-standing customer relationship of our industry-leading renewable generation solutions company, Blattner Company, and we appreciate the confidence that Pattern Energy has placed in Quanta to execute on these critical and historic renewable energy projects,” said Duke Austin, Quanta’s president and CEO. “We believe our self-perform capabilities and vertically integrated solutions allow us to provide greater cost, schedule and quality certainty to our clients, which also benefits consumers, and that the comprehensive approach we are taking on the SunZia projects can serve as a model for the renewable and utility industries going forward.”
—Darrell Proctor is a senior associate editor for POWER (@POWERmagazine).