Officials gather at New Mexico summit to advance clean energy

By:  Douglas Clark

A New Mexico clean energy summit this week led by U.S. Sen. Martin Heinrich (D-NM) concluded with state, tribal, and local leaders committing to reducing carbon emissions.

The summit brought together nearly 200 local officials and participants from across New Mexico, including the governor, the Albuquerque mayor, and representatives from Bernalillo County, Rocky Mountain Institute, U.S. Department of Energy, U.S. Department of Agriculture, and National Renewable Energy Laboratory. 

“The clean energy transition represents our state’s greatest opportunity in generations to create thousands of new jobs and attract millions of dollars of private capital to our state,” Heinrich said. 

The summit focused on policy recommendations, and offered participants technical assistance and resources to implement solutions to lower carbon emissions. Some of the clean energy initiatives discussed included deploying solar and improving energy options for homes and businesses; improved energy efficiency for buildings; transportation fleet electrification and charging infrastructure; and micro-grid and energy storage solutions for rural areas. 

“We are not waiting to take bold action on climate change right here at the local level,” Albuquerque Mayor Tim Keller said. “We announced a $2.8 million federal grant to bring electric buses to Albuquerque. This is one of the projects that we’ve taken on to make Albuquerque one of the top 10 cities in the nation for renewable energy.” The city’s goal is to get to 100 percent renewable energy use by 2030, he added.

New Mexico Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham said, “We’re working to make state buildings more energy efficient; we’re working on equitable methane rules that will boost state revenues; and we’re protecting communities and New Mexicans who are most affected by the changes in the energy industry.”

Katherine A. Bruch, Sandoval County Commissioner, District 1, noted that in 2018 Sandoval County completed the most aggressive energy efficiency program for a government entity in New Mexico. “Our energy efficiency program is expected to reduce our annual energy use by 40 percent, and reduce our annual costs by 35 percent,” she said.