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Wind, solar powering our cleaner economy

Recently, many of us in Curry County showed up to celebrate the dedication of the Grady Wind Center, north of Clovis. Renewable energy is not just a theoretical economic development strategy in New Mexico; it is real jobs for real families, providing real revenue for critical public services to improve the quality of life in rural communities like ours.

Every day brings another story about the cost competitiveness and environmental benefits of solar and wind power. Nowhere is that more true than in New Mexico, which is fortunate to have more solar and wind potential than almost any state in the nation.

As the Albuquerque Journal recently reported, New Mexico is now ranked third in the nation in wind energy, with 2,774 megawatts of wind energy in construction or development. That represents more than $3 billion in private capital investment and is enough electricity to supply hundreds of thousands of homes. Last year alone, wind projects in New Mexico accounted for 3,000 jobs, $8.5 million in state and local tax payments, and $10 million in land lease payments that help keep our farm and ranch families on the land.

Projects like the Grady Wind Center also support our local economy through Payment in Lieu of Taxes … to municipalities and school districts. In addition, project developers and their teams become part of our communities by volunteering and contributing to nonprofits, and sponsoring community events. We have seen an increase in activity for suppliers, local hotels, restaurants and other businesses in our county and an impact on our gross receipts tax.

Curry County isn’t the only place benefiting from renewable energy development. New Mexico added more wind power than any state in 2017, bringing jobs and revenue to rural communities that need them most. Eastern New Mexico University in Portales and its branch campuses are prioritizing academic programs and facility upgrades to meet the demands of Renewable Energy Opportunities. ENMU has added a renewable energy emphasis for BS and BAAS in Electronic Engineering Technology. Also, Fortune 500 companies like Facebook are choosing to expand in our state due to access to renewable energy.

Curry County is currently in discussions with a 100 MW solar project that, as planned, will consist of 1-1.5 million solar panels and interconnect with Xcel. …

As Public Service Company of New Mexico begins the process to shut its coal-fired San Juan Generating Station, we have an opportunity to refocus, and build a prosperous and clean energy future for New Mexico. Our state’s vast solar and wind resources can deliver a triple win for New Mexicans through:

• Affordable electricity for consumers;

• Clean, carbon-free energy future for our children and the climate; and

• A more diversified, resilient economy with new family-wage jobs across the state.

To maximize the economic and investment potential of renewable energy (in) New Mexico, the state must avoid time lags and barriers in permitting and siting projects, as well as support the transmission infrastructure necessary to bring electricity to market. We have an opportunity to build on a prosperous future for New Mexico. Let’s work together and seize this opportunity.

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