San Diego-based Sempra Energy expects to begin construction of the 156-megawatt Energia Sierra Juarez wind project in Baja California, Mexico, as early as this year.

Located 70 miles east of San Diego and just south of the U.S.-Mexico border, the 52-turbine wind facility will produce enough clean electricity to power about 65,000 average homes when fully completed in 2014.

Sempra subsidiary San Diego Gas & Electric Co. plans to purchase renewable power supplied from the first phase of the project under a 20-year contract recently approved by the California Public Utilities Commission, said Sempra spokesman Scott Crider. Expanding Energia Sierra Juarez depends on the ability to get additional power contracts, he said. At full build-out, the complex could produce up to 1,200 megawatts of wind power, according to Sempra.

“This project will provide a significant amount of renewable wind power to SDG&E customers in the San Diego area and is an example of the types of renewable resources that have been identified in the region,” Matt Burkhart, vice president of electric and fuel procurement for SDG&E, said in a statement.

Sempra subsidiary Sempra Generation is developing the project and is finalizing a joint venture with BP Wind Energy. Both are already co-owners of the 200-megawatt Fowler Ridge II wind farm in Indiana and the 250-megawatt Cedar Creek II wind farm in Colorado as well as wind farms in Kansas and Pennsylvania that are under construction.

Energia Sierra Juarez permits still pending from Mexican agencies, the county of San Diego and the U.S. Department of Energy are expected by mid-2012, Crider said.

Energia Sierra Juarez will connect to the existing California electric grid at SDG&E’s proposed ECO substation in eastern San Diego County via a cross-border transmission line.