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Clean energy can boost our economy

There is so much to love about New Mexico – family traditions; the beautiful land, water, and mountains; and the cultural diversity. For national companies that are looking to expand operations, New Mexico has much to offer. And with more clean energy, New Mexico can up the ante and compete with Colorado, Arizona, Utah and other surrounding states.

Facebook opened up a center in Los Lunas in 2017, largely because of an agreement with PNM to provide clean energy through three new solar plants representing a $45 million investment from PNM and a much-needed influx of construction and clean-energy jobs. New Mexico has the opportunity to send the right signal to other companies looking to locate here that renewable energy can power their companies for years to come. The result will be thousands of better-paying jobs for New Mexicans and an expansion of the tax base for cities, counties and the state.

A study last year by David Gardiner and Associates found 83 percent of manufacturers surveyed have established greenhouse gas reduction targets and 25 percent have established renewable energy targets. These goals, when combined with the continual decrease in cost for renewables, further cement renewable energy procurement as a top priority for many industries. Leading the field, companies as diverse as General Motors, Dow Chemical, Anheuser-Busch InBev, Owens Corning, P&G and Mars have significantly increased purchasing of clean energy to power their facilities. Clean energy is not just an interest for large companies. It is becoming a requirement.

If New Mexico is to be in the running for the expansion of large companies, it must provide more clean energy to power operations. Right now, clean energy accounts for 11,700 jobs in New Mexico. With a commitment to powering New Mexico’s economy for generations to come, clean energy can create thousands more jobs and attract new companies to set up shop here. This expansion would help turn around the economy and could fund vital services like schools, roads and health care by expanding the state’s tax base.

There’s an easy way to start: New Mexico’s policymakers should consider legislation that enables more consumer choice in energy procurement. Offering companies the competition that comes with third-party power purchasing agreements and setting benchmarks for the percentage of clean energy that utilities must create are both steps in the right direction.

Large employers looking to expand operations in the Mountain West want clean energy because it’s cheaper and the smart long-term play. New Mexico can be a leader among mountain states with stronger policies that answer the demand of companies that are willing to make an investment in the state to procure or source their power through clean energy options like wind and solar.

New Mexico is the Land of Enchantment, and also the Land of Promise, for a new way of attracting business to the state. Let’s take advantage of New Mexico’s abundant sunshine and wind, and power New Mexico into new jobs for the coming decades.