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Lifetime project revenue to bring in millions for public education

SANTA FE, N.M. – New Mexico Commissioner of Public Lands Stephanie Garcia Richard today signed wind energy leases that were awarded to Pattern SC Holding LLC (Pattern Energy) at a record-breaking public auction that was held on June 10, 2022. The results of the June 10 auction triples renewable energy on state trust lands, bringing renewable energy leased on trust lands to approximately 1,200 total megawatts, up from approximately 400 megawatts when Commissioner Garcia Richard took office in 2019.

“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,” said Commissioner Garcia Richard. “This is a victory for New Mexico’s school kids and for a growing renewable energy economy in the state. Our top priority at the State Land Office is to make money for public institutions, and we have shown that it is possible to rake in record revenue by tapping into our state’s remarkable wind and sun resources.”

“We are very excited to be awarded and honored to be entrusted with stewardship of wind development on these properties, which will be part of the largest wind project ever built in the Americas, located right here in New Mexico,” said Mike Garland, CEO of Pattern Energy. “The NM State Land Office has been responsive and excellent to work with on our 1,050MW project completed last year. We look forward to advancing development of our landmark renewable energy project that will generate millions in revenue for local New Mexican schools.” 

Pattern Energy was the highest bidder on the tracts of land totaling 147,684 acres. Altogether this project is expected to be three times larger than the current largest wind farm in New Mexico, and will be the largest wind energy project in the Western hemisphere.

In total, the winning bids for the wind energy leases were $9,295,000. The lifetime revenue for the beneficiaries of the state land trust from these leases is expected to be at least $196 million. The revenue generated from these projects will benefit New Mexico’s schools, universities, hospitals and other foundational institutions for the next several decades.

Currently, state trust land in New Mexico has a renewable operational capacity of 438 megawatts with an additional 366 megawatts under development. The Office of Renewable Energy projects at least 500 additional megawatts of wind power production on these eleven tracts of state trust land. This output is enough to power 196,211 homes’ electricity use for one year and is the equivalent of removing 321,035 gas-powered cars from the road. The output is also enough green power to power approximately 6,076,300,578 miles driven by electric car.

The tripling of renewable energy in the state is a result of Commissioner Garcia Richard’s efforts to create new revenue streams for New Mexico’s beneficiaries and help battle climate change. Commissioner Garcia Richard created the first-ever Office of Renewable Energy within the State Land Office to help grow the New Mexico’s renewable energy portfolio.

The creation of this new office has led to the construction of La Joya Wind Farm’s 207 megawatts on 35,000 acres of state trust land in Torrance County, the Western Spirit Wind Farm, Borderlands Wind Farm, the approval of four leases for the City of Las Cruces to power its water wells with solar energy, and much more. The addition of these 11 new wind leases brings the total number of wind energy leases on state trust land to 26. In addition, the office of renewable energy stewards 12 executed solar energy leases and manages a pipeline of 56 applications for new renewable energy leases on state trust land.

The State Land Office advertised the leases for ten weeks in two newspapers of common circulation, in accordance with state law. The leases will expire in 2077.

Commissioner Garcia Richard signing the leases awarded to Pattern Energy. Photo: New Mexico State Land Office.

Commissioner of Public Lands Stephanie Garcia Richard has overseen the New Mexico State Land Office since 2019. In that time the agency has raised more than $3.8 billion for New Mexico public schools, hospitals, and universities. Over 13 million acres of state trust land are leased for a variety of uses, including ranching and farming, renewable energy, business development, mineral development, and outdoor recreation. The State Land Office has a dual mandate to use state trust land to financially support vital public institutions, while simultaneously working to protect the land for future generations.