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PNM educates next generation on energy efficiency

Atrisco Heritage Academy High School 10th-graders Nathaniel Castillo, Hope Erwin, Faith Alatorrez and Carol Rodriguez participate in an energy conservation game during PNM’s presentation on Thursday. (Kim Burgess/Albuquerque Journal)

PNM is helping local high school students become energy conservation experts – and save their families money on electric bills.

The company launched its new PNM Energy Innovation program this week at 14 schools across Albuquerque and Rio Rancho.

More than 2,400 science students attended presentations on home energy use and received a free kit that includes an efficient-flow showerhead, smart power strip, energy-efficient light bulbs and other items.

“We talk about this in ways that are relatable to them,” said Shannon Jackson, PNM spokeswoman.

On Thursday morning, PNM visited Atrisco Heritage Academy High School in southwest Albuquerque.

The PNM presenters mixed eye-opening facts (a 30-minute shower uses 66 gallons of water) with practical money-saving tips.

PNM provided over 2,400 free energy-saving kits to students at 14 high schools in Albuquerque and Rio Rancho. (Kim Burgess/Albuquerque Journal)

Students calculated their annual electric bill for showers, laundry, blow drying and other tasks on a worksheet titled “the Cost of Looking Your Best.”

They also looked at a sample PNM bill to learn how to track energy use over time.

“Soon, it’ll be your names on the bill,” said presenter Laura Chabries.

Chabries urged the students to talk to their parents and share what they’ve learned.

“You are the new energy experts in your family,” she added.

Faith Alatorrez, 15, said she was surprised by a lot of the data.

The aspiring marine biologist is interested in conservation and plans to make changes to cut back on her energy use.

“I am going to take shorter showers,” she said. “Water is such a priority in the desert.”

In the coming weeks, the students will form teams and brainstorm conservation ideas as part of the Energy Innovation Challenge.

They can communicate their concepts through artwork, science projects, essays, music, videos, photos, websites or other formats.

The three highest-ranking teams will receive solar backpacks, which use the sun’s energy to charge phones and other devices.

Atrisco Heritage Academy science department chair Brian Schreiber said PNM is providing an engaging, hands-on conservation lesson.

“The kids are interested in this,” he said.

This spring, PNM plans to expand Energy Innovation to high schools across the state.

The company also offers an energy efficiency program for fifth-graders.

For more information, visit http://thinkenergy.org/programs/innovation/.

Correction: This story has been updated with the correct link to PNM’s program.

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