First Wind Energy reserves 1,500 MW on SunZia power line project

SunZia Transmission LLC has signed a letter of intent (LOI) with First Wind Energy LLC, as an anchor tenant in the SunZia Southwest Transmission Project, for a reservation of up to 1,500 MW of transmission capacity from one of its wind energy projects in development in New Mexico.

First Wind is developing high-capacity wind generation projects in central New Mexico.

“This marks yet another major accomplishment in the progress made thus far for the SunZia Project,” said Tom Wray, SunZia’s Project Manager, in a Sept. 6 statement. “Expressed interest for transmission service from renewable generators across SunZia has exceeded the project’s available capacity.”

“Wind is one of New Mexico’s valuable energy resources. If SunZia can resolve its siting challenges, First Wind plans to accelerate the development of this project in Central New Mexico,” said Kurt Adams, First Wind’s Executive Vice President and Chief Development Officer.

The U.S. Bureau of Land Management has led the preparation of an environmental impact statement on the SunZia Project since May 2009. The Final EIS was issued by BLM in June, with an expected record of decision by October of this year. The issuance of this decision will culminate nearly five years of environmental study of the project.

Boston-based First Wind develops, finances, builds and operates utility-scale renewable energy projects throughout the U.S. First Wind currently operates wind power facilities in the Northeast, the West and Hawaii, with combined capacity of more than 1,000 MW.

SunZia Southwest Transmission Project is an extra-high-voltage transmission project that will help enable the delivery of energy, including renewable energy to customers in the Desert Southwest, while greatly improving the reliability of the existing high voltage electrical grid. The system will span about 500 miles between Arizona and New Mexico. It includes up to two new 500-kV transmission lines and five electrical substations that will provide up to 3,000 MW of new capacity. Once all permits have been obtained, final design and engineering, acquisition of rights-of-way, and construction are scheduled to begin in 2014, with initial operation scheduled by 2016.

About Barry Cassell 20414 Articles
Barry Cassell is Chief Analyst for GenerationHub covering coal and emission controls issues, projects and policy. He has covered the coal and power generation industry for more than 24 years, beginning in November 2011 at GenerationHub and prior to that as editor of SNL Energy’s Coal Report. He was formerly with Coal Outlook for 15 years as the publication’s editor and contributing writer, and prior to that he was editor of Coal & Synfuels Technology and associate editor of The Energy Report. He has a bachelor’s degree from Central Michigan University.