FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
June 24, 2020
U.S. Senator Heinrich, Commissioner Garcia Richard, Business and Regulatory Leaders Call on Harnessing New Mexico's Potential as a National Leader in Wind Energy
New Mexico leaders highlighted the state's growing position and how the state's ability to emerge as a national wind leader is now more important than ever
Santa Fe, NM – U.S. Senator Martin Heinrich, New Mexico Commissioner of Public Lands Stephanie Garcia Richard, and business and industry leaders participated in a virtual panel today talking about the rapid emergence and future potential of wind energy in New Mexico. Sponsored by the New Mexico State Land Office in partnership with Powering New Mexico, the panel highlighted the progress of the state's development and the heightened need to harness New Mexico's full potential as a national leader in wind power.
View the virtual panel here.
"We have the opportunity to build the economy that New Mexico wants and deserves, and invest in a better more stable future for our entire state," Sen. Heinrich said. "The COVID-19 pandemic has disrupted New Mexico's entire energy industry, which makes it even more urgent for us to support the jobs and capital investment that come from clean energy projects-especially in rural communities. This will set the foundation to help our state meet our long term climate goals and reach our full potential as a national leader in this rapidly growing industry."
"New Mexico, with its abundant wind and solar resources, can and should be at the center of America's clean energy economy. If we make bold and pragmatic decisions now, we can bring thousands of new jobs and millions of dollars of investment to communities across our state. I'm committed to making that brighter future a reality," Sen. Heinrich continued.
An annual report from the American Wind Energy Association (AWEA) found that wind energy is now the U.S.'s top choice for new power, and demand for a clean energy economy has risen to record levels. Further, a COVID-19 world has hastened the need for sustainable, long-term renewable energy projects. The panelists discussed these critical topics as the new economy is forming and how New Mexico can utilize its potential that will create high-demand jobs, support new technologies, and build out our transmission infrastructure to deliver this new power to New Mexicans across the state.
"The recent unprecedented challenges facing our state have only strengthened our determination at the Land Office to execute build out of New Mexico's incredible potential for wind energy on the hundreds of thousands of acres of state trust land that are prime for these projects," said New Mexico Land Commissioner Stephanie Garcia Richard. "Not only will increased wind power boost our economy for decades while raising valuable revenue for our public schools, it will lessen New Mexico's dependence on fossil fuels and take on the role of being an important economic vehicle in the recovery fight against COVID-19."
"Transmission infrastructure is the key to unlocking New Mexico's vast wind energy potential and the billions of dollars of economic benefits that will come with it," said Sarah Webster, Vice President of Investor Relations, Government Relations, and Corporate Communications for Pattern Energy. "With more than 4,000 MW of New Mexico wind in development, representing over $8 billion of planned investments, we are working closely with local communities to create jobs and bring positive economic impacts, including long-term community benefits."
AWEA's recent annual report also highlighted the progress of wind in New Mexico. The state ranks 16th in the nation for installed wind capacity at 1,952 MW and the energy source generated 19.4 percent of New Mexico's total electricity, enough energy to power more than 629,400 homes. Nearly 3,000 jobs are supported by wind in New Mexico, and projects result in $8 million in annual state and local revenue as well as $12 million in annual land lease payments. However, the state's potential is significant, along with the need to expand infrastructure and implement pro-growth renewable energy policies.
"As advancements with wind power continue to accumulate across the county, New Mexico stands to benefit substantially as current projects under construction or in advanced development will nearly double the state's installed wind capacity," said John Hensley, Vice President of Research and Analytics for the American Wind Energy Association. "Building on this success, New Mexico has even more room to grow, especially with transmission expansion and greater market coordination across the west. These improvements are critical for grid modernization and delivery of maximum economic impact with wind power."
"The top choice for new power in the U.S. also happens to be New Mexico's best kept secret, and with the right strategy we can diversify our economy and make our state the gateway to powering he west," said Fernando Martinez, Executive Director of the New Mexico Renewable Energy Transition Authority (RETA). "Along with new wind projects, a commitment to transmission line infrastructure is needed to make our state a true powerhouse for the energy of the future."
"If properly supported, New Mexico's abundant wind capacity can help build a diverse and competitive energy economy that can lead the country," added Rikki Seguin, Executive Director of Interwest Energy Alliance. "Our potential with wind energy isn't just a short-term benefit – wind is the energy of the future, and the economy is responding to the reliability, low-costs, and innovation that New Mexico stands to provide."
About the New Mexico State Land Office
In fiscal year 2019, the State Land Office earned over $1 billion from leasing state trust lands for a wide variety of uses, including ranching and farming, renewable energy, business development, and mineral development. These earnings support 22 land trust beneficiaries, which include public schools throughout the state, seven universities and colleges, the School for the Deaf, the School for the Blind and Visually Impaired, three hospitals, correctional facilities, water conservation projects, and public building construction and repair. Learn more at NMStateLands.org.
About Powering New Mexico
Powering New Mexico, an initiative of the American Wind Energy Association, is an alliance of New Mexicans who believe we must harness our state's renewable energy resources, support growth in wind capacity, and advocate for transmission upgrades to deliver that power to market. Learn more at PoweringNM.com.