AWEA names governor a 'wind champion' - Albuquerque Journal

AWEA names governor a ‘wind champion’

A screenshot of panelists ata New Mexico American Wind Week discussion Wednesday afternoon. The panel included Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham, bottom left, as well as other officials and industry leaders. (Journal photo)

The American Wind Energy Association presented its 2020 Wind Champion Award to Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham this week in an online forum that highlighted New Mexico’s progress in building wind-generation across the state.

The award and forum, which included the governor and executives from several wind development companies, were part of the national association’s “American Wind Week,” now in its fourth year. The event celebrates achievements across the country, honoring select federal and state officials for their efforts to promote wind energy.

Lujan Grisham’s aggressive support for the state’s new Energy Transition Act, which requires all public utilities to convert the grid to 80% renewables by 2040 and 100% carbon-free generation by 2045, has propelled the governor into a national leadership role in clean energy development, said AWEA CEO Tom Kiernan.

“The Energy Transition Act is an extraordinary piece of legislation that makes New Mexico a groundbreaking leader in the U.S.,” Kiernan said during the virtual forum.

New Mexico currently derives 19.4% of its total electricity from wind generation, ranking it eighth in the nation, according to AWEA’s latest annual report, released in April. About 20 wind farms now produce nearly 2,000 megawatts of electricity – enough energy to power 630,000 U.S. homes.

And a lot more is coming, with nearly 2,000 MW either under construction or in advanced planning, said Pattern Energy CEO Mike Garland. Pattern will break ground this fall on a 1,000 MW complex of wind farms in central New Mexico. It’s also developing the 165-mile Western Spirit Transmission line to transport electricity to western markets.

New Mexico benefits significantly from wind development, said EDF Renewables President and CEO Tristan Grimbert, who called it a “drought resistant crop” for rural communities. The industry supports about 2,000 local jobs and generates about $12 million in annual lease payments for landowners and $8 million in state and local revenue, Grimbert said.

Promoting wind and other clean energy will feature prominently in November, said Lujan Grisham after accepting the AWEA award.

“We’ll have an earnest debate at the federal level during this year’s elections,” the governor said.

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