Thousands of acres in south-central New Mexico were set to host two wind farms on state public lands after the results of a lease sale by the New Mexico state land office were announced Friday. -Mexico.
Both deals were awarded to affiliates of Pattern Energy for a total of 15,000 acres.
Canyon Winds won a 2,318-acre lease in Lincoln County for about $150,000, while a 13,370-acre lease in Torrance County was awarded to El Corazon Wind for about $1 million, according to archives.
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The minimum bids for each lease were $50,000 and they were expected to generate $5.2 million in revenue for public schools, universities and hospitals, according to the Land Office announcement.
Institutions benefiting from the leases along with public schools, the Land Office reported, were Eastern New Mexico University, Colfax Miners Hospital, New Mexico Tech and New Mexico State University.
“Renewable energy companies are eager to innovate in New Mexico, and we are excited that the results of this tender opening will help advance this growing industry while bringing in big money for our school children,” said New Mexico Public Lands Commissioner Stephanie Garcia. Richard.
“New Mexico is blessed with plenty of natural wind and sun, as well as 9 million acres of state land of varying topography. This combination of factors is the perfect recipe for my office to pursue aggressive expansion. renewable energy projects on state lands.
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Pattern Energy recently began spearheading an expansion of wind power generation throughout New Mexico after recently winning bids for 11 leases for such operations spanning Lincoln, Torrance and San Miguel counties.
These leases were expected to add more than 500 megawatts to New Mexico’s wind power capacity and generate an additional $196 million in revenue.
Pattern also acquired the SunZia transmission project this year, a project that will have the capacity to move 3,000 megawatts of wind power between New Mexico and southern Arizona, where it can be sent to other markets. .
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The transmission was expected to be complete by 2025, and power will be moved from Pattern’s 3,000 MW SunZia wind project which is expected to be completed in early 2026 also on State Trust Land.
“While we’ve already tripled the rental of renewable energy on state land, we’re just getting started,” Garcia Richard said.
She was re-elected in November in the New Mexico general election and contested by Republican and New Mexico Commissioner of Public Regulation Jeff Byrd, representing the commission’s second district that covers rural eastern New -Mexico.
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During the election campaign, Byrd criticized Garcia Richard for “taking credit” for the expansion of renewable energy in New Mexico, which he said was required by Senate Bill 489 – the law on the energy transition adopted by lawmakers and signed by Governor Michelle Lujan Grisham in 2019.
The law required New Mexico’s utilities to transition to 100% carbon-free energy by 2045, requiring renewable energy to be used in place of much of the state’s carbon-emitting fossil fuel generation. State.
“She takes credit for what Senate Bill 489 mandated. It had to happen,” Byrd said. “The duty of the Land Office is to raise funds for the beneficiaries. It would be a breach of his duty not to rent this land.
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But the case for more renewable energy has underscored a larger debate about New Mexico’s overall energy development, Byrd said, because the state relies heavily on fossil fuels like oil and gas for more power. a third of its budget.
The Land Office recently announced that about $2.4 billion in revenue this year alone came from oil and gas, and Byrd said he was not convinced that wind and solar power would ever replace the extracted petroleum products.
“It’s not going to happen in our lifetime,” he said. “I’m not opposed to wind and solar, but we need solid energy and oil is our key to that.”
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He pointed to a perceived agenda by Democratic New Mexico government leaders to limit fossil fuels and chastised plans to tighten controls on emissions of greenhouse gases like methane from the oil and gas industry. .
“When you artificially reduce oil and gas production, you increase the price at the pump and that increases the cost of everything,” Byrd said.
Byrd admitted that renewables could be used to diversify New Mexico’s energy supply and supplement demand when fossil fuel markets decline and production is curtailed by energy companies.
But he maintained that oil and gas will continue to be a crucial part of New Mexico’s economy and industry for the foreseeable future.
While following the state’s wind and solar mandates, Byrd said the Land Office should also reform and streamline permits and lease renewals for oil and gas facilities statewide, by working with businesses to help them comply with state requirements.
“Oil and gas can be volatile. There are ebbs and flows, so we need to diversify,” Byrd said. “Alternative energy is not a silver bullet. If we eliminate oil, nothing will replace it.
“It would be overwhelming for the state if that were to happen.”
Adrian Hedden can be reached at 575-628-5516, email@example.com or @AdrianHedden on Twitter.