This week, the Solar Foundation released its 2016 job census. Nationally, solar was the top source of newly-installed energy capacity. Environment New Mexico Executive Director Sanders Moore pointed out that at the end of last year, there were nearly 3,000 New Mexicans working in the solar industry.
Women hold just under half those jobs, 33 percent of the workers are Latino or Hispanic, and almost 9 percent are veterans.
Unlike many other economic indicators, New Mexico is ahead of the curve when it comes to job growth in solar. Solar jobs grew by 54 percent from 2015 to 2016 in New Mexico. Nationally, that number was 44 percent.
Those jobs tend to be concentrated in urban areas, like Bernalillo and Santa Fe counties. Wind industry jobs, on the other hand, are concentrated in rural areas.
Xcel Energy announced two new wind projects recently, one in Texas and a second in Roosevelt County, New Mexico. Construction of the Sagamore Wind Project is expected to employ 300 construction workers and then 20-30 employees.
According to the American Wind Energy Association, New Mexico currently has 14 wind projects online, with 745 turbines. That puts the state at 18th for installed capacity. AWEA doesn’t have solid job numbers for the state, estimating between 1,000 and 2,000.