San Francisco-based Pattern Energy Group LP is on track to complete the installation of 44 windmills by August and begin generating clean energy by November at its operation spread throughout 3,700 acres of land in Santa Isabel.
During a tour of the facilities Monday, Gov. Luis Fortuño confirmed the project — the first wind farm on the island and the largest in the Caribbean — will generate 75 megawatts of energy, or the equivalent of “the average power consumed by 25,000 homes.”
Pattern Energy announced plans to establish its green energy operation in Puerto Rico last year, security permits from the Puerto Rico Planning Board in September 2011 and $250 million in financing the following month.
In recent months, the company has been receiving shipments of the components of the massive windmills it has been raising on what critics say is prime farmland along the island’s southern flank.
However, during his visit, Fortuño said Pattern has been including the Santa Isabel community and farmers in its project.
“The Santa Isabel farming community has been an essential part in developing this project. The Department of Agriculture and the Land Authority have been in constant communication with the community during the development of this wind farm,” Fortuño said.
“Pattern has an agronomist on staff who is in constant communication with farmers in the area. More importantly, these farmers may continue to use the land for agriculture,” he said.
The windmills and equipment necessary for their operation, occupy about 21 acres of the total of 3,700 acres reserved for green energy generation, “which means that the entire project will occupy less than 1 percent of agricultural land,” Fortuño said.
The remaining 3,679 acres remain dedicated to agriculture activity and may not be used for commercial or housing development.
“Every day we work on the Santa Isabel wind farm, we bring Puerto closer to achieving its goal of diversifying energy sources,” said Hunter Armistead, executive director of Pattern Energy. “We applaud the government of Puerto Rico for its aggressive pursuit of these goals and we reiterate that we are a partner to achieve them.”
By law, the government must generate 12 percent of energy through renewable sources by 2015, 15 percent by 2020 and 20 percent by 2035. Aside from the Santa Isabel wind farm, there are several other green renewable energy projects going up to harness solar and wind energy in Guayama and Naguabo.