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Energy savings boost businesses

RIO RANCHO, N.M. — Cutting a company’s energy footprint could help cut costs as well as save a business from making a tough decision or two, according to a Public Service Company of New Mexico representative.

Amy Miller, PNM’s director of community, environment and local government, spoke to an audience of business leaders during Thursday’s NAIOP Rio Rancho Roundtable. The event was held in Presbyterian Rust Medical Center’s lower-level conference room.

Since 2007, Miller said, PNM has offered savings programs for everyday customers and businesses. She said rebate and incentive programs for new buildings, retrofit programs for small and large businesses, and, starting this month, incentive programs for multi-family housing units, have helped companies cut electricity usage and saved money spent on the electric bill.

“It’s great to go around the state and meet businesses that have participated in our programs, who had got a rebate, who are saving a tremendous amount on their bill. They’ll say, ‘It was great, I didn’t have to lay someone off because of these savings’ or ‘I was able to put money into an advertising campaign,'” Miller said. “That economic development, looking at it from a very different perspective, is from looking at your energy bill.”

Miller said the shift toward energy efficiency and alternative energy has been a significant change for the energy industry in the last few years.

“Everyone across the United States is reducing their coal footprint,” Miller said. “Since 2009, about 25,000 megawatts of coal have been retired in the United States and that same amount of reduction is expected to continue between now and 2022. That being said, coal is still going to be part of the mix in keeping the lights on, but it’s taking a lesser role.”

PNM has made an effort to implement more solar energy into the company’s equation. In May, PNM opened an 80-acre solar energy center in Sandoval County, west of the city of Rio Rancho. The energy center has approximately 75,590 solar panels and generates enough energy to serve 2,450 average customers.

The county’s new energy center is part of PNM’s $270 million investment in solar energy and is one of 15 solar energy centers planned to open this year. And still, Miller said, traditional energy sources like coal will be used by the company.

“We like renewables, we care about renewables, we’d like to transition to renewables but we’d like to do it in a way that makes sense, for us and for our customers and to keep our rates affordable,” she said.