New Mexico, nicknamed the Land of Enchantment, has made numerous strides toward becoming more energy efficient and using renewable energy. Its goal is to have 20 percent of all investor owned utilities to incorporate at least 20 percent renewable energy by 2020, and all rural electric cooperatives incorporate a minimum of 10 percent renewable energy by 2020. By becoming more energy efficient, New Mexico will become more energy independent and make headway in becoming one of the most well noted sustainable states in the United States.
1 ) Incentives and Policies for Renewable Energy and Energy Efficiency in New Mexico. The state government of New Mexico has created a number of great financial incentives for both homeowners and business owners that are looking to make the switch to renewable sources of energy and energy efficient products. These incentives include a number of corporate tax credits for items like sustainable building and renewable energy production, performance based incentives, personal tax credits, property tax incentives, sales tax incentives on items like biomass equipment and solar energy equipment, and utility rebate programs from leading energy providers like El Paso Electric Company, New Mexico Gas Company, and Xcel Energy.
2 ) New Mexico Wind Energy Center. The New Mexico Wind Energy Center was established in October of 2003 and looks to support New Mexico’s most ambition renewable energy project. Its wind center, located 170 miles from Albuquerque is suited for the windy landscape of the state. There are 136 turbines at 210 feet high. All together, it can create approximately 200 megawatts of energy, which is enough to power 94,000 average homes in the state. It was awarded the 2003 Utility Leadership Award because of its dedication to renewable energy and its advancements in wind energy.
3 ) Green Grid Initiative Gets Momentum. In 2009, New Mexico started to set in motion a brand new plan that will aid in creating the first fully integrated smart green grid in the United States. Along with state utilities, the government officials are working with national labs, energy businesses, and research universities to have the green grid modernized by the year 2014. The objective is “To create an Internet-enabled grid to allow utilities to continuously monitor energy supply and demand in real time. Automated controls would remotely shut things on and off across the network to conserve energy and better balance generation and consumption. Consumers also would receive real-time data on energy prices to decide when they want to use appliances or adjust thermostats.” With this project, New Mexico experts to reduce total consumer electricity use by six percent, reduce the local need for peak power generation by 25 percent by the year 2025, create over 850 permanent jobs, and increase private and public revenue by $11.5 billion by 2020.
4 ) University of New Mexico Living Green Program. At the University of New Mexico, the Resident Life and Student Housing association created the Living Green program. This is part of the university’s larger sustainable movement. The Living Green program provides students in dormitories with ways to conserve energy on a regular basis. These ideas include turning off all electronics when not in use, conserving HVAC systems by closing windows when system is in use, recycling at all times possible by placing recyclables in the right receptacle in the dormitory building, and cutting back on all waste, such as getting smaller servings in the cafeterias.
5 ) Geothermal Project Heading in Right Direction. In 2010, Raser Technologies, an energy technology company obtained over $15 million in financing for a New Mexico Lightning Dock project from Evergreen Clean Energy and FE Clean Energy Group. When this project is completed it will provide the state is 15 megawatts of clean geothermal power. This announcement demonstrated that there is still investor interest to create clean energy sources.
6 ) Energy Conservation and Management Division. The Energy Conservation and Management Division is part of the New Mexico Energy, Minerals, and Natural Resources Department. This division aids in the development and implementation of successful clean energy programs, including energy efficiency, renewable energy, clean fuels, conservation, as well as efficient transportation. The goal is the promotion of economic and environmental sustainability for all the citizens of new Mexico.
7 ) New Mexico Solar Energy Association. The New Mexico Solar Energy Association is a nonprofit organization that is committed to the continual promotion of solar energy and other sustainable practices. It was established in 1972 to find ideas and methods to use renewable energy and determine how smaller villages could become sustainable. The mission of the New Mexico Solar Energy Association is to “Promote clean, renewable energy and sustainability in New Mexico through education, empowerment, collaboration, and advocacy.” The association holds the Solar Fiesta every year, a two day educational event that provides information about all forms of renewable energy to everyone in New Mexico.
8 ) New Mexico Biofuels Information Center. The New Mexico Biofuels Information Center is a nonprofit organization established in 1998 to promote the utilization of utility-scale renewable energy for the generation of electricity as well as to further the utilization of renewable fuels for transportation. The center is a member of the New Mexico Sustainable Energy Collaborative. The New Mexico Biofuels Information Center works with petroleum retailers to create partnerships that are mutually beneficial. One of the pilot programs the center is looking to take on is a school bus biodiesel program. It would provide a 1,000 gallon biodiesel tank (above ground) that would be installed at the school bus refueling yard.
9 ) New Mexico Renewable Energy Conference. Every year, the New Mexico Renewable Energy Conference is held in Albuquerque, New Mexico. The objective of this conference is to locate more efficient and affordable ways to “mesh large scale solar and wind farms and smaller distributed generation systems that include the sea of solar panels popping up on residential rooftops around the world into grids that are dependent on consistent sources of power.” Also as a topic of discussion at the conference is how policy makers are able to develop regulatory roadmaps that would encourage the creation of additional sources of renewable energy.
10 ) Largest Solar Photovoltaic Project Completed. In August of 2010, the largest solar photovoltaic array in New Mexico was completed. This 1.1 megawatt project was installed in the city of Albuquerque at the headquarters of Bell Group. The solar photovoltaic array spreads over five acres and generates enough electricity to meet approximately 80 percent of the energy needs for Bell Group. It will avoid the creation of an estimated 1,125 tons of carbon dioxide emissions annually. As an added bonus, it also provides shaded parking areas for visitor and employee vehicles.
Article by Shawn Lesser, Co-founder & Managing Partner of Atlanta-based Watershed Capital Group – an investment bank assisting sustainable fund and companies raise capital, perform acquisitions, and in other strategic financial decisions. He is also a Co-founder of the GCCA Global Cleantech Cluster Association ”The Global Voice of Cleantech”. He writes for various cleantech publications and is known as the David Letterman of Cleantech for his “Top 10″ series. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org