There’s been a major development with the SunZia Wind and Transmission Project, the largest clean energy infrastructure project in U.S. history:
Thanks to a major labor agreement reached last week, the SunZia transmission line will be constructed by union members.
As the proud son of an IBEW lineman, I know what these types of good-paying, union jobs can do for New Mexicans. It’s exactly why I’ve fought so hard over the last decade to get this done.
I hope you can take a moment to read and share the Albuquerque Business First story below about this new development.
The SunZia Wind and Transmission Project will have massive economic impact in our state, creating thousands of jobs in our rural communities, while also bringing us one huge step closer to meeting our climate goals and conserving wildlife habitat.
We are putting New Mexico on the map as the place to build our clean energy future.Sincerely,
By Jacob Maranda – New Mexico Inno Reporter, Albuquerque Business First
Dec 14, 2023
The International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers (IBEW) signed a project labor agreement on Monday to construct a transmission line that'll take wind power generated in New Mexico more than 500 miles across the state and into Arizona as part of the larger $8 billion SunZia Transmission and Wind Projects.
IBEW officially announced the project labor agreement (PLA) on Wednesday. The organization, which represents approximately 820,000 active members and retirees according to its website, noted in its announcement that members from Albuquerque Local 611 and Phoenix Local 769 are already at work building the high-voltage [direct current] transmission project.
The 580-mile, $1.3 billion transmission line is one part of the SunZia Transmission and Wind Projects, under development by San Francisco-based Pattern Energy. The projects broke ground outside of Corona, New Mexico, in early September after receiving a series of regulatory approvals in November 2022.
Quanta Services Inc., an infrastructure construction corporation based in Houston, is working on the projects with Pattern, helping build a converter station that'll sit about 10 miles north of Corona, New Mexico, or about 100 miles southeast of Albuquerque.
"SunZia won't just slash carbon emissions, but create good, middle-class jobs throughout this region, and this transmission PLA guarantees that," International President Kenneth Cooper said in a statement.
Work on the projects is expected to create up to 2,000 jobs at peak construction, Pattern Energy has said, and about 150 permanent jobs once operational. Kevin Wetzel, associate vice president of business development for Pattern Energy and the lead developer for the SunZia projects, told Albuquerque Business First at the September groundbreaking the projects will combine local labor with additional workers "from probably all over the country."
The projects have two parts — a 3,500-megawatt wind farm that will be built across Torrance, Lincoln and San Miguel counties in New Mexico, and the 580-mile, bi-directional interstate transmission line that will run between south-central Arizona and central New Mexico.
Government and company officials have touted the projects as the largest clean energy development in the Western Hemisphere. An independent study by research firm Energy, Economic and Environment Consultants LLC has predicted the projects could create north of $20 billion in total economic impact over 30 years, much of which could flow to New Mexico, where the wind farm and a large stretch of the transmission line will be built.
The combined 6,500 megawatts of energy included in the projects will come from more than 900 turbines, two HVDC converter stations, 10 substations and multiple operations and maintenance facilities, alongside over 100 miles of wind generation transmission lines, according to IBEW's Wednesday announcement. Pattern Energy has estimated between 2.5 to 3 million people could receive power through the projects.
Work on the SunZia projects was halted in mid-November when Native American Tribes protested the transmission line over concerns about its effect on religious and cultural sites. Work has since resumed, with operations expected to start in 2026.