February 16, 2017

Nukes should count as green energy, says state rep

By NRC [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons

Alvin Ward Vogtle Nuclear Power Plant

An Eddy County state representative wants to remove three words from the New Mexico Renewable Energy Act. That slight change would classify nuclear energy as a source of renewable energy.

Republican state Rep. Cathrynn Brown, an attorney, introduced HB 406, which is scheduled for the House Energy, Environment and Natural Resources Committee on Thursday.

The Renewable Energy Act requires public utilities, like PNM and Xcel Energy to provide customers with a certain amount of electricity generated from renewable sources.

Currently, renewable sources include solar, wind, geothermal, biomass, certain hydropower facilities and fuel cells that don’t rely on fossil fuels.

The law explicitly states that “renewable energy” does not refer to electricity generated from fossil fuels or nuclear energy.

In 2015, Gov. Susana Martinez released a new energy plan for the state. In that plan, authors wrote that a post-2020 “low-carbon electricity portfolio” could include nuclear power.

In that plan, authors wrote that:

small modular reactors (SMRs) could provide carbon-free, baseload electricity generation, and SMRs contain improvements to cost, safety, and environmental concerns that are present for larger nuclear generation facilities.

SMRs are still being researched and reviewed. According to the U.S. Department of Energy, they could be commercially deployed within the next decade.

That governor’s plan also called for reviewing state policies regarding nuclear power generation and creating an “education campaign” to increase citizen knowledge of oil and gas operations, renewable energy development, uranium mining and nuclear power development.