America’s largest renewable energy project has just started here in New Mexico with critical approval from the Bureau of Land Management.
The SunZia Power Transmission and Wind Project will bring significant economic benefits to New Mexico. An estimate released last year put the total economic impact of the project on New Mexico and Arizona at $20.5 billion. The project is expected to create over 2,000 jobs for him during construction and support over 100 permanent jobs for him once operational.
Overcoming a series of obstacles, I fought for this project. All of these battles were worth it for this project to have a transformative economic impact on local communities.
We are also particularly proud of the efforts we have made to engage with local communities, individual landowners and stakeholders. Together, we secured a strong commitment from SunZia’s developer, Pattern Energy, to provide significant local economic returns and investments in environmental stewardship.
SunZia plans to develop 3,500 MW of wind power in New Mexico. That’s enough to transition over 3 million homes to clean, renewable energy. Together, the SunZia Transmission and SunZia Wind projects will be the largest renewable energy infrastructure projects in US history.
They will put the state on the map as a place to build large-scale renewable generation projects and transmission infrastructure, with all the jobs and private capital investment that comes with it.
As we build more transmission lines, we need to learn the lessons this project has taught us.
We need to operate what Pattern Energy has voluntarily done. We need to encourage community welfare agreements, economic development assistance, and other efforts that benefit local communities along the route of these large-scale projects. We will ensure our community is part of a clean energy future.
We also need to expedite the permitting process. That doesn’t mean every project gets the go-ahead. That means reaching a yes or no conclusion in ten years, not ten and a half years.
America’s demand for clean, reliable, and affordable energy is growing. To do that, we need to build even more new transmission lines. In the last Congress, we invested heavily and established new federal policies to help build grid infrastructure.
But to make the most of this opportunity, we need to move faster and further. Otherwise, you run the risk of leaving clean energy unattended. At least 2,000 gigawatts of proposed solar, wind and energy storage projects are queuing for transmission connections, according to a Berkeley National Laboratory study last year.
In the coming weeks, I will be introducing a new major transmittal reform bill to the Senate. Right now, New Mexico has a lot to celebrate. Billions of economies, thousands of jobs, and a giant step towards meeting ambitious and urgent climate goals.