New Mexico’s Renewable Energy Goals Are Becoming a Reality

The population of the state of New Mexico is approximately 2.10 million people[1]. In April 2020, state utilities used natural gas (38.5%), renewable energy (33.0%) and coal (28.5%) to generate electricity[2]. Wind and solar are the primary sources of renewable energy in New Mexico.

New Mexico’s use of inexpensive natural gas and renewable energy offset the high cost of coal to keep electricity prices below the national average. In April 2020, the average cost of residential electricity in New Mexico was 12.51 ¢ per kWh, compared to the national average of 13.28 ¢ per kWh.

In March 2019, New Mexico Governor Michelle Lujan Grisham signed a clean energy bill, requiring state utilities generate 50% of their electricity from renewable energy by 2030, 80% by 2040, and 100% by 2045. The energy bill received overwhelming, bipartisan support, even though New Mexico has significant coal, oil, and natural gas reserves.

In July 2020, the New Mexico Public Regulation Commission (NMPRC) unanimously approved a plan to replace the power from the San Juan coal-fired plant with solar and energy storage. The utility, Public Service Company of New Mexico (PNM) was directed by NMPRC to replace the power from the 497 MW capacity coal-fired power plant with new solar and energy storage facilities.

In July 2020, the New Mexico Renewable Energy Transmission Authority (NM RETA) released a study[3] on the state’s renewable energy resource potential. The study concluded that New Mexico had sufficient renewable energy resources to not only meet the state’s energy goals, but the potential to be a major exporter of power to other western states.

The study also reported that substantial new power transmission infrastructure must be built if the state was going to be able to develop the state’s vast wind and solar energy potential. NM RETA estimated that 900 to 1,300 miles of new high voltage transmission lines and 11,500 MW of new renewable energy capacity must  be built to meet New Mexico’s clean energy goals as well as supporting the power requirements of other states.

Currently New Mexico has 2,500 MW capacity of existing renewable energy capacity and 3,100 MW capacity of renewable energy capacity under development. The state has the renewable energy potential to generate 137,000 MW capacity of wind and 824,000 MW capacity of solar power.

Unlike many states that establish renewable energy targets, New Mexico has actually done the scientific analysis to quantify the state’s renewable energy potential. America’s future energy center may move the oil fields of Texas to the wind farms and solar parks of New Mexico.

Jack Kerfoot

Website – “Our Energy Conundrum”

www.jackkerfoot.com

[1] Worldpopulationreview.com

[2] U.S. Energy Information Agency – New Mexico State Profile and Energy Estimates

[3] New Mexico Renewable Energy Transmission and Storage Study” by ICF Resources in partnership with NM RETA

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