The current population of the “Land of Enchantment,” New Mexico is estimated to be 2.01 million people. In March 2020, state utilities used natural gas (38.8%), renewable energy (32.5%) and coal (28.7%) to generate electricity. Wind and solar are the primary sources of renewable energy in New Mexico.
New Mexico’s use of renewable energy and natural gas, offsets the high cost of coal to keep electricity prices below the average price in the United States. In March 2020, the average price of electricity in the United States was 13.1 ¢ per kWh, compared to 12.5 ¢ per kWh in New Mexico.
Climate change concerns have prompted New Mexico’s legislators to take action to reduce 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 support in New Mexico’s Senate and House even though the state has significant coal, oil, and natural gas reserves.
Xcel Energy has resumed construction of the 522 MW Sagamore Wind Project, located in eastern New Mexico. Although the coronavirus caused delays to the project, the wind farm is still scheduled to begin operation by year end, 2020.
In addition to wind, New Mexico has significant undeveloped solar and geothermal potential. The state has developed a viable plan to achieve zero greenhouse gas emission by 2045, while maintaining below average power costs. New Mexico and a viable, cost effective clean, green energy plans other states should closely study.
Our Energy Conundrum