New Mexico Inks Trust Land Leases For Massive Wind Project

ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. (AP) — New Mexico’s public land commissioner on Monday signed nearly a dozen leases that will clear the way for a major renewable energy developer to erect wind turbines across 230 square miles (595 square kilometers) of state trust land.

Officials are billing Pattern Energy’s planned development in Lincoln, Torrance and San Miguel counties as the largest wind energy project in the western hemisphere.

The company at the end of 2021 brought online four wind farms in central New Mexico totaling more than a gigawatt of capacity for utility customers in California. The new leases will be part of the larger SunZia project, which will ultimately have a capacity of 3,000 megawatts to power homes in more populated markets in the West.

New Mexico Land Commissioner Stephanie Garcia Richard said that together, the 11 leases signed Monday mark the largest leasing of state trust land for renewable energy development in the state’s history.

"Tripling renewable energy may have sounded like a lofty goal, but we have made it there by executing these leases and we won’t stop now,” she said in a statement.

Pattern Energy has said it plans to invest $6 billion in upcoming wind energy and related infrastructure projects in the state over the next decade.

The company had a total winning bid of nearly $9.3 million for the parcels. State officials said they expect revenue from the planned project to bring in at least $196 million over its lifetime to benefit public schools and other state institutions.

In all, the State Land Office oversees 26 wind energy leases and 12 solar energy leases. The agency said it also has several dozen applications for new renewable energy leases in the pipeline.