Las Cruces is leading the way on electrification

By:  U.S. Senator Martin Heinrich

The energy landscape is undergoing a massive transformation. New Mexico needs to be ready, and I’m working to make that happen. Our state is uniquely poised to benefit from advances in technologies, the growth of the clean energy economy, and widespread electrification of our homes and businesses.

Widespread electrification is one of the surest actions that we can and should take right now to address the climate crisis. It will also improve our health, create thousands of new, good-paying jobs, and spur major savings on all of our utility bills. That’s why I’m proud to be leading the effort in the Senate to call for big and bold climate action and widespread electrification as part of President Biden’s Build Back Better agenda.

Earlier this year, I introduced the Electrifying America’s Future Resolution to lay out a clear policy roadmap for widespread electrification and the decarbonizing of our entire power generation sector. In July, I introduced the Zero-Emission Homes Act to establish rebates that will make clean, electrified appliances affordable and accessible to all American households.

The fact is that many of the devices and appliances that we use every day in our homes and businesses currently burn fossil fuels, from furnaces to water heaters to cars. As we transition our power sector toward 100 percent clean generation, we should also replace each of these appliances in our homes and businesses with new electrified machines that can be powered by all the new clean and carbon pollution-free electricity generated right here in New Mexico.

Electrifying these appliances would also address the 42 percent increased risk of children experiencing asthma symptoms associated with indoor air pollution from gas stove use. Such indoor pollution disproportionately affects low-income households with smaller homes. Furthermore, outdoor air pollution from residential buildings currently accounts for 44 premature deaths in New Mexico per year.

We need to accelerate the electrification of our homes and businesses, and we need to avoid locking in decades of unnecessary costs and further damaging pollution by continuing our use of fossil fuel combustion appliances and vehicles. This is a real and proven way for us to meet our carbon emission requirements quickly enough to prevent the worst effects of a warming planet. And it can create incredible health and economic benefits along the way.

I’m enormously proud of all the leadership that the City of Las Cruces is demonstrating on this front. Las Cruces is transitioning its vehicle fleet to electric vehicles and building more electric vehicle charging infrastructure. And city councilors are calling for a phase out the use of natural gas by the city-owned utility.

I’m encouraging local leaders all across New Mexico to follow Las Cruces’ example and take bold steps to electrify new and existing city buildings and adopt new codes and initiatives that will incentivize electrification of residential and commercial buildings in the community. This will save tax payers and business owners money because electric infrastructure has significantly lower annual operating costs.

As New Mexicans advance local solutions to the central challenge of our time, I will keep fighting for climate action at the federal and global levels. We need to pass all of the bold economic and climate investments in President Biden’s Build Back Better Plan. If we can do that, we will make once-in-a-generation investments in the American people, lower costs, cut taxes, create climate careers, and make the wealthy and corporations pay their fair share. 

We don’t have any time to waste on climate. The extreme weather events, floods, heat waves, droughts, and wildfires will only continue to worsen unless we take significant action right now. Our actions can create a cleaner, healthier environment and good paying careers in the building trades all across New Mexico.

This is our moment to act. Let’s not waste it.