Pattern Energy buys 3-GW SunZia transmission project to deliver wind energy from New Mexico to Arizona


In July 2022, Pattern Energy Group bought the proposed SunZia transmission project, a 525-kV line set to deliver 3,000 MW to Arizona from wind farms Pattern is developing in New Mexico. For more, read Pattern Energy buys 3-GW SunZia transmission project to deliver wind energy from New Mexico to Arizona.

Key Takeaways

  • Pattern Energy expects to begin full construction of the SunZia transmission project and the SunZia wind projects in 2023, with operations for the bi-directional power line set to start in 2025, and the wind farms coming online in early 2026.
  • Pattern Energy’s announcement that it is buying the first phase of the SunZia project from Southwestern Power Group is part of a surge in transmission activity in the West.
  • The Bureau of Land Management has authorized construction on a 500-kV power line between Arizona and California and Southwestern Power Group is continuing to develop a second SunZia phase, a 500-kV high voltage-alternating current transmission line called El Rio Sol Transmission that would parallel the SunZia line.
  • Pattern Energy has also been marketing its wind generation to utilities in California. In December 2021, the Los Angeles Department of Wind and Power started buying power from Pattern Energy’s 350-MW Red Cloud wind farm in New Mexico for $41/MWh under a 20-year, fixed-price contract.
  • Pattern Energy said it is developing other interstate transmission projects, including the 525-kV Southern Spirit Transmission project, a bi-directional transmission line that would connect the Electricity Reliability Council of Texas to the Southeast market.

Path to 100% Perspective

The SunZia transmission project is just one example of the kinds of infrastructure that will be needed to support the addition of renewable electricity sources on the Path to 100%. These projects also make renewables more accessible for regions that don’t have the capacity to harness wind or solar, ensuring a reliable, resilient supply of power. Resilience and reliability are two key factors that contribute to the success of renewables and our drive toward a net-zero future. But so is flexibility. Adding energy storage and thermal balancing is critical to ensure backup power is available when there is insufficient wind and solar.