During the second week of August clean energy advocates celebrated American Wind Week. Key energy players across the state sat down to discuss the future of renewable resources in New Mexico.
In an event moderated by New Mexico State University Chancellor Dr. Dan Arvizu, energy leaders discussed ways to implement the state’s Energy Transition Act. The act dictates that 50 percent of New Mexico electricity will come from renewable energy resources by the year 2030.
As of 2018, wind made up approximately 19 percent of New Mexico’s energy. Arvizu said he feels encouraged by the progress being made in the state and pointed out that wind energy has the potential to expand even further.
“The opportunity space is enormous, the resource capacity that this state has is enormous,” Arvizu said. “We've got leadership that wants to make it happen…it's a matter of making it compelling enough that we can track investment, and as that investment comes in I think then we’ll be able to reap the benefits.”
The event kicked off with an award presentation to Governor Michelle Lujan Grisham for her help in developing wind power in New Mexico. The governor praised wind advocates, who she says are making key investments to spur progress.
“It is rare that you get competing companies, that you get solar wind, geothermal, any number of experts on a variety of issues who come together, including every environmental advocate and talk about how you actually transition, including what do you do for workers, as you're moving from a fossil fuel industry for energy…into something that is not only better cleaner and renewable, but creates the kinds of careers that our young people are seeking out today,” Lujan Grisham said.
New Mexico Energy, Minerals, and Natural Resources Department Secretary Sarah Cottrell Propst said that further developing the way clean energy is transmitted will be a key component in reaching the 2030 energy goal.
“Transmissions is a big one,” Cottrell Propst said. “The New Mexico utilities are often buying a piece of the output of a much larger project that's also exporting somewhere else. And what is important about that, besides the fact that we benefit from getting those lower prices, is that we do have some transmission constraints getting out of the state and building new transmission is really hard.”
Exporting resources like wind could be a helpful boost to New Mexico’s infrastructure according to panelist Brian Sarantos, the associate director of development at EDF Renewables. He’s hopeful the state’s wind energy can be distributed to surrounding states like Arizona, California and Colorado.
“Wind resources in New Mexico are par none,” Sarantos said. “They are able to meet the load demands and the production profiles for what a lot of the western states are looking for.”
Sarantos also pointed out the impact wind and other clean energy sources can have on local economies.
“Wind, and renewable energies for that matter, allows ranchers and farmers to basically maintain a family farm,” Sarantos said. “We hear that all the time. The community benefits, because those taxes that are brought in on property taxes, are passed around the community or school districts. So, the benefits of renewable energy are ongoing.”
Both the panelists and the governor expressed their excitement about the continued development of clean energy in New Mexico. Governor Lujan Grisham spoke of her desire for the state to be a trendsetter in renewable power.
“I want New Mexico to be number one, no matter what the measure is,” Lujan Grisham said. “Whether it's a combined renewable portfolio, whether it's just wind generation, whether it's just solar generation, whether it's for new investments in infrastructure, whether it's for modernizing the grid and additional electric cars, I don’t care.”