The AES Corporation (AES) has announced the commencement of commercial operations for phase one of the Chevelon Butte wind farm. The project is situated on the Chevelon Butte Ranch in Coconino and Navajo Counties, Arizona.

AES’ Chevelon Butte project is projected to generate a combined capacity of 454MW of wind energy when both phases are fully operational in the coming year. The initial phase of the project will contribute 238MW of renewable energy to the grid, while the remaining 216MW is anticipated to begin commercial operations in 2024.

AES EVP, COO, and Renewables President Bernerd Da Santos said: “This landmark project will deliver cost-competitive renewable energy to Arizona, while operating on one of the oldest working cattle ranches in the state.

“Once both phases are complete, Chevelon Butte will be Arizona’s largest wind energy project and the first wind farm built in Northern Arizona in nearly a decade.

“Achieving this milestone together with our landowner, local community partners, Coconino and Navajo County leaders, Arizona state agencies and our customer, APS, has ensured that this project will produce clean energy for decades to come, right alongside Arizona’s ranching industry.”

APS resource management vice president Justin Joiner said: “APS is Arizona’s leader in clean energy and we’re making progress to add more renewable energy resources, while maintaining a reliable and affordable electrical system.

“The Chevelon Butte wind facility will add more wind energy to our balanced and diverse energy portfolio, helping us advance our 51% clean resource portfolio on the road to delivering 100% clean energy to our customers by 2050.”

The wind farm will be compatible with the current land uses, allowing the landowner family and Arizona State Land Department to carry on their longstanding tradition of livestock raising and property stewardship, which spans over a century. All lease payments made to the State Land Department will directly contribute to funding Arizona’s public schools, universities, and other beneficiaries within the state.

In close collaboration with regulatory bodies and permit authorities, AES has also implemented distinctive design elements to avoid sensitive environmental resources and preserve the internationally recognized dark sky characteristics of Northern Arizona. This includes the integration of a radar-activated lighting system that ensures the required turbine lights only activate when low-flying aircraft are in the vicinity, thus safeguarding the area’s natural darkness.

AES Clean Energy chief development officer Woody Rubin said: “The Chevelon Butte wind farm is an excellent example of AES’ commitment to sustainable clean energy development.

“We have carefully designed this large-scale project to feature advanced technology and deliver positive economic and environmental outcomes to Arizona, and Coconino and Navajo counties.”

The project will utilise the most cutting-edge wind energy technology deployed to date and will feature a total of 105 wind turbines when fully constructed. Upon the completion of both phases, the company’s Chevelon Butte wind facility is projected to produce sufficient electricity to meet the annual power needs of 110,000 homes.