WASHINGTON – Today, U.S. Senators Tom Udall and Martin Heinrich and U.S. Representative Michelle Lujan Grisham announced that the University of New Mexico (UNM) was awarded a $20 million, five-year grant by the National Science Foundation (NSF) to create the New Mexico SMART (Sustainable, Modular, Adaptive, Resilient and Transactive) Grid Center, an interdisciplinary research and education program to help support development of a modern electric grid. The center will coalesce ongoing independent research efforts throughout New Mexico in academia, national laboratories and industry under the umbrella of a unified, integrated program.
The award aims to connect researchers and students from higher education institutions with scientists at Los Alamos National Laboratory and Sandia National Laboratories, as well as other organizations, to address the state’s pressing, next-generation challenges for electric power management. It will also support workforce development by engaging and training diverse students to enter the competitive STEM sector.
“This very significant award will help New Mexico lead the way in developing innovative smart grid technologies,” said Udall. “The SMART Grid Center will link leading colleges and universities with our world-class national labs to advance important research into more efficient, secure and reliable energy management. By bringing together researchers, students, academics and scientists throughout the state, it will also help train the next generation of STEM workers and energy sector leaders. As a senior member of the Appropriations Committee, I’ll keep fighting to strengthen our energy and research infrastructure so that New Mexico can continue to play a central role in upgrading our power grid for the 21st century.”
“This major investment represents a significant opportunity for the University of New Mexico to play a leading role in developing the energy technologies that will power the 21st century grid,” said Heinrich, a member of the Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee. “Smart grid technologies developed in the lab in New Mexico are on the cutting edge. Our state’s students and workers can and should be prepared to take on the challenges of integrating renewable energy sources into our grid, building self-sustaining microgrids, and optimizing the use of all of our energy sources. Some of the premier demonstration projects for microgrid, renewable energy, and storage technologies are right here in New Mexico, including the Los Alamos Smart House and the Microgrid Systems Lab in Santa Fe. With this new SMART Grid Center, UNM can become the premier research university in this rapidly growing and evolving space. If we can embrace and invest in innovative technologies and systems like storage, microgrids, and distributed resources, our state can lead the way in mitigating the effects of climate change and create thousands of good-paying clean energy jobs for New Mexico workers.”
“This grant will spur statewide public and private research collaboration, invest in the development of a well-trained STEM workforce, and support job creation and economic development in the energy sector,” said Lujan Grisham. “As New Mexico tackles the effects of climate change, these strategic investments allow the state to stay on the cutting edge of energy distribution and technology development, ensure energy stability and security, and support the STEM pipeline. I look forward to seeing the collaborative breakthroughs from professors and students at University of New Mexico, New Mexico State University, New Mexico Tech, and Santa Fe Community College, researchers and scientists at Sandia National Laboratories and Los Alamos National Laboratory, as well as other organizations in New Mexico, such as the Microgrid Systems Laboratory and Explora Museum.”
The grant was funded through the National Science Foundation’s Established Program to Stimulate Competitive Research (EPSCoR), which aims to develop regional partnerships between government, educational institutions and industry to improve a state or jurisdiction’s research and development capacity.