New Mexico has a renewable portfolio standard which requires our utility providers to produce 20 percent of the electricity we consume – the electricity that powers our homes and businesses – by 2020. At the time it was passed it was an incredible step to take to help diversify our energy production and produce more clean energy. It has had a dramatic impact on lowering the cost of the production of clean energy—wind and solar.
Now, our neighbors—Colorado and Arizona—are updating and increasing their respective renewable portfolio standards, to further increase the amount of clean energy produced in those states. With our legislature and Governor in support, New Mexico is now on the path to join this group of clean energy leaders.
What does all this mean for New Mexicans? Our biggest utilities will be cleaner. When this law is passed, energy producers will be required to generate 100% carbon-free energy that powers our homes and businesses with clean energy by 2045. I have no doubt that we can do it. Our beautiful state boasts over 300 days of sunshine a year and plenty of wind, particularly on the eastern side of the state. We have more than enough clean energy sources to meet this goal.
Clean energy will create lots of jobs. It will take a lot of people power to build and maintain new solar panels and wind turbines. PNM, the largest utility in New Mexico, is already phasing out its coal fired power plants and will need to replace the energy produced by this outmoded system. This is just one more reason why the timing of a new and improved renewable portfolio standard couldn’t be better.
Here’s another win for New Mexicans: the more clean energy we produce, the more cost effective it becomes. We already know it is cheaper to produce wind and solar energy than natural gas. So, as we continue to invest in clean energy we’ll continue to make utility bills cheaper for all New Mexicans—a total win win for our communities.
Kristina Ortez is the president of the nonprofit Conservation Voters New Mexico’s board of directors.