First renewable project prepares to connect to Sunrise Powerlink

The Ocotillo Wind project, a 265-MW facility located about 25 miles west of El Centro, Calif., is close to becoming the first renewable energy project to connect to the recently completed Sunrise Powerlink.

The project’s developer, Pattern Energy Group, reported Oct. 12 that it has assembled more than 30 of 112 turbines planned for the facility, completed the majority of the foundations for the remaining turbines, and completed most of the road and civil work. Most of the project will be in commercial operation by the end of the year with a small portion entering commercial service in early 2013, according to the company.

Because of its location, the project did not require the addition of any new transmission.

“The Sunrise Powerlink literally cuts across the project area, so pretty much zero additional transmission needed to be built,” a company spokesperson told TransmissionHub Oct. 12.

The 117-mile Sunrise Powerlink is a $1.9bn, 500-kv transmission line that was developed to bring renewable power from the Imperial Valley to San Diego. It was completed by San Diego Gas & Electric (SDG&E) and energized June 17.

“We’re thrilled at the progress of construction on this wind project and are looking forward to connecting this clean, renewable energy to the Sunrise Powerlink,” an SDG&E spokesperson told TransmissionHub.

Pattern Energy emphasized that it chose 2.37-MW, American-made Siemens turbines for the Ocotillo Wind project. The turbine towers are manufactured in California by Ameron International, the blades are made in Iowa and the nacelles are manufactured in Kansas.

In addition to supporting the national economy, Pattern Energy said it is committed to improving the local communities where it develops wind projects.

Specific to the Ocotillo Wind development, the Ocotillo Wind Community Benefits Program will contribute funding through the Imperial Valley Community Foundation for causes benefiting the Imperial Valley, and will provide funding for the Imperial Valley Food Bank and the Imperial Valley Desert Museum, as well as programs benefiting regional Native American tribes and environmental causes, the company said.

The developer also said it is concerned about minimizing its impact on the area surrounding the 120-acre facility.

“We have been committed to respecting the cultural heritage of the area and to protecting the environment,” Pattern Energy CEO Mike Garland said in a statement. Ocotillo Wind’s mitigation measures include an advanced radar system for the protection of golden eagles in the area.

The developer said the project is currently in the California ISO’s interconnection queue. The ISO cannot provide additional details until the project is released to commercial operation.

Ocotillo Wind will be Pattern Energy’s fifth operating wind project in North America and upon completion will bring the company’s total to more than 900 MW of installed wind power capacity.

Pattern entered into a 20-year power purchase agreement with San Diego Gas & Electric (SDG&E) for the sale of energy produced by the project. The wind project will provide clean and renewable energy equal to the needs of approximately 125,000 homes in Southern California each year.

SDG&E is a subsidiary of Sempra Energy (NYSE:SRE).