Land of Enchantment’s Green Energy Transformation

State Overview

The population of the “Land of Enchantment”  New Mexico is approximately 2.11 million people. New Mexico is the 37th most populated state in the United States.

In 2022, New Mexico’s economy was ranked 37th in the United States in gross domestic product (GDP). The state’s economy is dependent on energy, aerospace, defense, mining, logistics, agriculture, and tourism industries.

Environmental Policies

In 2002, New Mexico enacted a Renewables Portfolio Standard, mandating all investor-owned and cooperative utilities sell 40% of their electricity from renewables by 2025 and 80% by 2040.

In 2019, New Mexico legislators overwhelmingly approved the Energy Transition Act, which requires all investor-owned and cooperative utilities sell 100% of their electricity from zero-carbon sources by 2045.

In 2020, New Mexico announced plans to expand the regional power grid and develop the state’s vast wind and solar resources.

Power Generation Capabilities

In October 2023, utilities used renewable energy (50.0%), natural gas (36.0%), and coal (14.0%) to generate electricity in New Mexico. Wind and solar are the dominant types of renewable energy used to generate electricity in New Mexico.

In October 2023, the average cost of residential electricity in New Mexico was 14.50¢ per kWh, compared to the national average of 16.21¢ per kWh.

Recent renewable energy developments in New Mexico include –

  • 4,000 MW HVDC Transmission Line – New Mexico Renewable Energy Transmission Authority (RETA) and Illinois energy company Invenergy are continuing work on a 400-mile high-voltage direct current transmission line will carry green energy produced in northeastern New Mexico. The project is forecast to be completed in 2028.
  • 3,500 MW Wind Project – California renewable energy company, Pattern Energy is continuing work on the massive Sun Zia Wind project in central New Mexico. The project is forecast to be commissioned in 2026.
  • 1,050 MW Wind Project – In December 2021, California renewable energy company, Pattern Energy commissioned the Western Spirit Wind project in central area of the state.
  • 650 MW Solar + Energy Storage Projects – In June 2022, the Public Service Company of New Mexico commissioned four solar power plus energy storage projects in northwestern area of the state.
  • 200 MW Wind Project – In February 2022, Texas renewable energy company, Leeward Renewable Energy commissioned the AragonneWind Project in the central area of the state.
  • 130 MW Solar + 65 MW Energy Storage Project – New York company, DE Shaw Renewable Investments is continuing work on the Carne solar facility in the southern region of the state. The project is forecast to be commission in 2025.
  • 100 MW Energy Storage Project – In December 2023, Florida utility, NextEra Energy commissioned a battery energy storage system at the Saint Solar project in the northwestern area of the state.
  • 50 MW Solar Project – In June 2022, Illinois renewable energy company, Hecate Energy commissioned a solar project on Jicarilla Apache tribal lands in the northern area of the state.

Conclusions

Commercial coal mining began in New Mexico in the 1880s, prior to statehood. Coal was initially used to fuel steam engines for the railroad, forges, and furnaces.

In 2022, New Mexico had three operating coal mines, which produced approximately 10.55 million tons of sub-bituminous and bituminous coal. New Mexico’s coal is primarily used to fuel state power plants.

In 2010, 74.1% of New Mexico’s electricity was generated from coal-fueled power plants. In October 2023, only 14.0% of the state’s electricity was generated from coal-fueled power plants. Why the decrease in the use of coal?

  1. Economics – The cost to generate power from wind, solar, and hydropower is significantly cheaper than coal. The cost to generate power from coal-fired plants is over twice the cost of wind or solar.
  2. Environment – Coal ash, the product of coal burned in a power plant contains arsenic, mercury, and lead; which are toxic. In 2019, coal ash was reported to have leaked into the ground water around 241 coal-fired plants in America.
  3. Climate Change – Coal generates 40% to 45% more greenhouse gases than natural gas.

Coal, oil. and natural gas have been an integral part of New Mexico’s economy for over 100 years. Over the last twenty years state legislators have taken action to reduce New Mexico’s greenhouse gas emissions.

New Mexico completed a comprehensive assessment on the state’s power grid and renewable energy resource potential, prior to passing legislation that state utilities sell 100% of their electricity from zero-carbon sources by 2045. New Mexico is transforming its energy export economy from fossil fuels to renewables, like wind and solar.

New Mexico will soon become a clean green energy hub in the United States. The Land of Enchantment is undergoing an amazing energy transformation, which other states should study and replicate.

Jack Kerfoot

Website – “Our Energy Conundrum”

www.jackkerfoot.com

 

Jack Kerfoot is a scientist, energy expert, and author of the book FUELING AMERICA, An Insider’s Journey and articles for The Hill, one of the largest independent political news sites in the United States. He has been interviewed on over 100 radio, podcast, and television stations from New York City to Los Angeles on a diverse range of energy issues.

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