California has been burning for weeks. Northern New Mexico remains in exceptional drought conditions. Seas are on average 9 inches higher. Heat waves are far more intense than just a few decades ago. And a federal report released Friday on the effects of climate change is raising the sense of urgency and alarm for mitigating extreme weather disasters.
Meanwhile, Albuquerque’s mayoral administration is embarking on a path to power city government with 100 percent renewable, clean energy within four years.
Last week, Mayor Tim Keller announced a partnership with Public Service Company of New Mexico that would have city-owned facilities using 25 of the 50 megawatts of electricity produced by a brand new solar generating station. That would put the city’s energy use at 58 percent renewables, compared to 4 percent today. Reducing energy use and installing $25 million worth of solar panels on city buildings are also part of the city’s road map to 100 percent renewable energy.
“This began when I signed the (Climate Paris Agreement) when I first took office, but it also means we cannot wait any longer to do all that we can to try and combat the damage caused by climate change to our environment, our economy and our way of life,” Keller says. “It also means taking concrete steps to reduce our carbon footprint, and also put Albuquerque on a more sustainable path and reducing the cost of that very electricity bill.”
The city spends about $1.2 million a month to power city buildings, and Keller says the transition is expected to save money in utility payments over the long term.
Add this initiative to PNM’s existing and two planned solar plants for Facebook’s campus in Los Lunas, the recent shuttering of two coal-fired units at PNM’s San Juan Generating Station in the Four Corners, along with plans to replace the remaining two with natural gas units by 2020, and El Paso Electric going coal-free in 2016, and New Mexico electricity providers are clearly heeding not only market, but also climate science mandates.