U.S. Senator Martin Heinrich along with other local leaders arrived at the Las Cruces Convention Center on an all-electric bus to promote the future of cleaner energy sources at the PowerUp Las Cruces Expo. The expos showcased electric cars, solar panels, and energy-efficient building upgrades to the public. Senator Heinrich says it takes a community to start the change to cleaner energy.
“So much of the impetus to do this happens at the local level and we are seeing Las Cruces step up in a way that is at the highest level of national leadership. Really going the extra mile to educate their constituents on what’s available, how to do it, how to get educated and what next steps you need to take,” Heinrich said.
While many may be excited for the future of electrification, some may be held back by the higher cost of these emerging products. Senator Heinrich says due to recent legislation, this hurdle may have been crossed.
“One of the things I worked on extensively that was included in the Inflation Reduction Act is a set of rebates that make it possible for people with low income or moderate income to buy these new technologies at effectively the same cost that you would buy an older less efficient technology,” Heinrich said.
The United States has historically ranked as the second largest emitter of greenhouse gasses churning out an estimated 14% of global carbon emissions according to the Union of Concerned Scientists. However, there has been progress. According to the Environmental Protection Agency, since 2005 the US has cut 20% of its emissions thanks in part to some of the technology and knowledge being shared at the expo. According to New Mexico’s senior U.S. Senator, the affordability of new technology has helped.
“It used to be that the single biggest source of CO2 emissions was the power generation sector. That's not true anymore. Because wind and solar and batteries have gotten so cheap now transportation is the bigger sector and a huge portion of it is the things that we burn in our homes,” Heinrich said.
The City of Las Cruces Sustainability Officer Lisa LaRocque says she has been helping update city equipment as well as helping local residents to switch to cleaner energy without breaking the bank.
“We are moving our fleet to 50% electric by 2030, we are adopting community solar and have over 25% of the energy generated in the municipality come from renewable energy. We are working on low-income programs where we will help facilitate that process so that they will be in the front of the line for all the rebates we get,” LaRocque said.
The City of Las Cruces says that driving makes up 53% of Las Cruces emissions. This means that electric vehicles have become one of the biggest opportunities to lower carbon emissions. With EV sales more than doubling in 2021, James Pleasant II with El Paso Electric says now is the time to ditch gas.
“The future is now. We actually have electric vehicles we have the EV buyers guide so you can see all available models. We have models we have all-electric busses and even all-electric trucks like the one you see behind me,” Pleasant said.
Pleasant says that electricity averages about 3 times cheaper than gas making the convenience of charging at home even more enticing. but for longer trips, careful planning is needed to find a charger.
“The typical range for these electric vehicles is going to be over 200-300 miles and keep in mind the average person travels about 40 miles or less a day. That’s plenty of time to go to your commute and come back. And they have free apps out there like Plug Share and Plan A Better Route so you can see what stations are going to be at your destination and how long you need to stay for,” Pleasant said.
EV’s are not the only advancement being showcased at PowerUp Las Cruces. Induction stove tops were on display. Some have voiced concerns about the possible health impact from gas stoves in the house. NMSU hotel, restaurant, and tourism management Assistant Professor Daren Bloomquist says that other options could be a better choice.
“They are safer because they are minimal burn risk since you don't have an open flame. They are very safe for families that might have children or seniors in the household. They are more efficient. Induction cooktops put about 85% of the energy you are paying for to cook the food where gas stoves are probably 32% and the rest of the other 68% goes up into the atmosphere,” Bloomquist said.
City officials say that this is expected to become an annual event with the next expo in 2024. As electric vehicles and appliances continue to move toward being more cost-effective, they could play a bigger role in all of our lives soon.