The Western Spirit wind project involved the development of four onshore wind farms in New Mexico, US, with a combined capacity of more than 1.05GW.

The four wind farms collectively form the biggest single-phase renewable power project in the country, generating enough clean electricity to power 590,000 homes in the US. The project is also considered to be the biggest wind farm development in New Mexico.

The Western Spirit wind project is owned by Pattern Energy, which was also responsible for the development of the wind farms. The project entered its full construction phase after reaching financing closure in January 2021. The wind farms started commercial operations in January 2022.

The wind farms created more than 1,100 jobs during the construction period as well as approximately 100 full-time permanent jobs.

The Western Spirit wind projects are expected to provide annual property tax revenues worth $3m for the three counties and two school districts in the project area.

Western Spirit wind project details

The wind farms are situated across the counties of Guadalupe, Lincoln and Torrance in central New Mexico. They are spread over 118,168ha of land, which is held by 40 landowners.

The Western Spirit wind project uses 377 wind turbines with capacities between 2.3MW and 2.8MW for four wind farms, namely 105MW Duran Mesa, 272MW Tecolote, 349MW Red Cloud and 324MW Clines Corners.

Located near Corona, Lincoln County, the Duran Mesa wind farm will supply electricity to Silicon Valley Clean Energy (SVCE) and Monterey Bay Community Power (MBCP) as part of 15-year power purchase agreements (PPAs) signed by Pattern Energy.

The Tecolote, Red Cloud and Clines Corners wind farms have been built in Torrance and Guadalupe counties.

The Clines Corner wind farm development, which occupies 49,371ha of land, was acquired by Pattern Energy in June 2020.

The Red Cloud wind farm will supply electricity to 222,300 homes in Los Angeles under a renewable energy agreement signed in October 2020. It is one of the biggest, highest capacity and lowest cost wind farms in the renewable energy portfolio of the Los Angeles Department of Water and Power (LADWP).

The wind farms are part of a larger group of wind developments called the 2.2GW Corona wind projects.

Western Spirit transmission line

The electricity generated by the wind farms is collected through four 34.5/345kV substations and transmitted through four 345kV AC gen-tie lines connecting the Western Spirit transmission line.

The wind farms were developed in conjunction with the Western Spirit transmission line, a 241km-long, 345kV AC transmission line, which connects the Western Spirit wind project to the existing grid in north-west New Mexico. The transmission line starts in Torrance County, near Corona, and terminates at the Rio Puerco substation, near Albuquerque.

The Western Spirit transmission line was developed by Pattern Energy and the New Mexico Renewable Energy Transmission Authority (RETA). It was energised and acquired by the Public Service Company of New Mexico (PNM) in December 2021. The transmission line can deliver 800MW of electricity to the New Mexico grid.

Contractors involved

Blattner Energy was selected as the construction contractor for the Western Spirit project.

GE Renewable Energy was contracted to supply 377 wind turbines and provide maintenance services for a period of ten years.

GE Energy Financial Services provided tax equity to the project. GE Energy Consulting was engaged to provide critical grid modelling and analysis, as well as power system and equipment studies for the wind farms, a new transmission line, substations, and a series capacitor bank.

The construction contract for the Western Spirit transmission line was awarded to a partnership of MMR and EC Source, a subsidiary of MasTec.

Ulteig provided the design for the four 34.5/345kV collector substations and 108km of gen-tie transmission lines for the project.

M&S Engineering designed the Western Spirit switching station in Torrance County, as well as the 241km transmission line to connect the wind power project to the New Mexico grid.

Pattern Energy’s wind energy portfolio in New Mexico

Pattern Energy’s operational power generation portfolio includes 28 renewable energy facilities with a total capacity of 4.4GW across the US, Canada and Japan.

The company has more than 4.5GW of wind farms in operation or development in the New Mexico region, representing planned investments of approximately $9.5bn.

Its major wind power projects in New Mexico include the 325MW Broadview wind farm, commissioned in 2017, the 220MW Grady wind farm, commissioned in 2019, and the ongoing 3GW SunZia wind farm.

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