US energy official to visit NM amid renewable push

The head of the U.S. Energy Department is scheduled to visit New Mexico as the Biden administration looks to promote its renewable energy initiatives.

Energy Secretary Jennifer Granholm will be accompanied by Democratic U.S. Sen. Martin Heinrich for the two-day visit. They are expected to meet with local leaders and organizations about the state’s push for more renewable energy and efforts to lower costs as utilities face a mandate over the next two decades for providing emissions-free electricity to customers across the state.

A roundtable discussion Wednesday in Albuquerque will focus on how transmission projects could unlock New Mexico’s potential to develop more wind and solar power.

They will then travel to the Farmington area Thursday, where another discussion is planned on creating opportunities for the local workforce, which includes tribal members from the neighboring Navajo Nation. The region is preparing for the closure in the coming years of two major coal-fired power plants and the mines that feed them.

Granholm also will tour businesses that are working on new energy technologies, from mobile hydrogen generators to cooling systems for nuclear reactors.

Granholm has made similar visits to other states. In July, she stopped in West Virginia to promote the role that the once-booming coal-producing state could play in the administration’s plans to move away from fossil fuel generation.

Heinrich, a member of the Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee, first invited Granholm to New Mexico in March.

He has been pushing legislation that would help offset the reduction of fossil fuel revenues and jobs that will come with the energy transition, saying he wants to “ensure that oil and gas workers and their communities aren’t left behind.”

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