The current population of the “Land of Enchantment,” New Mexico is estimated to be 2.10 million people. In April 2019, state utilities used coal (37.3%), natural gas (33.8) and renewable energy (28.9%) to generate electricity. Currently, wind, solar and hydropower are the primary sources of renewable energy in New Mexico.
New Mexico’s use of renewable energy offsets the high cost of coal to keep electricity prices below the average price in the United States. In April 2019, the average price of electricity in New Mexico was 12.3 ¢ per kWh, which is the 21st lowest price of any state in the United States. The average price of electricity in the United States is 13.3 ¢ per kWh.
Global warming and climate change have prompted New Mexico to take action to eliminate greenhouse gas emissions. On March 19, 2019, Governor Michelle Lujan Grisham signed a clean energy bill, requiring that the state’s utilities generate 50% of their electricity from renewable energy by 2030, 80% by 2040, and 100% by 2045.
The energy bill received overwhelming public support even though New Mexico has significant coal, oil and natural gas reserves. New Mexico utilities are now accelerating the move to develop the state’s wind, solar, geothermal and biomass resources.
New Mexico’s coal companies are even evaluating carbon capture systems to meet the state’s new greenhouse gas emission mandate. The city of Farmington, New Mexico is now working with Enchant Energy to save the coal-fired, San Juan Generating Station in northwestern New Mexico.
Enchant Energy, headquartered in Farmington, New Mexico develops systems to capture CO2 for sequestration purposes and electricity production by investing in state-of-the-art environmental technology. The San Juan Generating Station is approximately fifteen miles northwest of the city of Farmington. The coal-fired plant currently has over 400 employees and a critical component of Farmington’s economy.
Ironically, the renewable energy industry is actively recruiting trained personnel from coal mines and coal-fired power plants for new wind, solar and geothermal power plants. New Mexico has significant wind, solar and geothermal potential which are currently being developed to replace coal and natural gas power plants. Unlike coal mines, which close once the coal reserves are depleted, renewable energy projects are never depleted providing job security.
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