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A Clean Energy, Clean Technology Economy for New Mexico


By Brendan Miller
New Mexico Economic Development Department
November 17, 2008


Despite New Mexico's leadership in the New Energy Economy, it is regrettably
often in the national blindspot. Most of the rest of the country has little idea
what resources and advantages we have or what we are working on in the state. In
this blog I will shed some light on these subjects. This first post simply lays
out some of New Mexico's key advantages.

World-class developable solar, wind and geothermal resources: New Mexico has
the 2nd best solar resource in the United States, the 5th best non-coastal
wind resource, and untapped geothermal potential. Our extensive public lands
and large-tract ranch lands in the state make developing this resource much
easier than in many states with a more fragmented land ownership. Furthermore,
New Mexico's relatively small population means that the state has excess power
capacity that can be used in other states that have large load centers and
more challenges in bringing productive renewable power plants online.
Strong state and federal level clean energy champions: New Mexico Senator
Bingaman is Chair of the Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee,
incoming Senator Udall is a passionate renewable energy advocate, and incoming
Representative Lujan is a veteran of the Public Regulation Commission which
oversees our electric utilities and helped to put in place the state Renewable
Energy Portfolio Standard. Furthermore, Governor Richardson was Secretary of
Energy under President Clinton, and one of the five FERC Commissioners is from
New Mexico. This makes New Mexico one of the strongest federal energy
delegations in the nation.

World-class renewable energy research institutions and a strong venture
capital community: New Mexico is home to Sandia National Laboratory, Los
Alamos National Laboratory, the Air Force Research Laboratory, the University
of New Mexico and several other colleges actively involved in research on
renewable energy technologies. 9.8% of the state's population has a masters
degree or better, compared with only 8.9% nationally. New Mexico is well known
in the scientific community for its research capacity in the area of solar
power, materials science and energy conversion and harvesting. These research
centers have been placing a much greater emphasis on the commercialization of
their new technologies in recent years. Add to this an established venture
capital community with ready money to invest and connections to VCs around the
country, and you have a great place to start or grow a clean technology company.

A strong and growing clean tech business cluster: New Mexico generally, and
Albuquerque in particular, is home to a significant and growing base of
leading clean tech businesses. These businesses are attracted by both our
natural solar resources and research capability and fueled by New Mexico's low
cost of doing business. In the area of solar manufacturing, Schott Solar,
Advent Solar, Emcore, Skyfuel and Sundrop all call New Mexico home. We must
not forget that New Mexico also has a growing biofuels industry and other
clean tech businesses, like Miox.

World-class solar and wind training centers: Most people outside of the state
are not aware that New Mexico is home to leading solar AND wind training
centers. For example, San Juan College's Renewable Energy Program has an
excellent reputation in the industry, as does Mesalands College's Wind
Research and Training Center. There are few renewable energy training centers
that can compete with these two, and other centers are emerging around the
state. The centers are also known for their offering of national recognized
certifications (like NABCEP and MSSC Certified Production Technicians), their
customer service orientation, and ability to develop customized training for
companies looking to locate in New Mexico or looking to grow their workforce.
Combined with New Mexico's attractive quality of life, companies that locate
in New Mexico can easily ensure a qualified workforce.

A small and responsive state government: This customer service orientation
extends to state government more broadly. Unlike larger states, New Mexico
remains small, well-coordinated and focused on developing its New Energy
Economy. The New Mexico Economic Development Partnership helps companies work
through the logistics of locating the state. The Clean Energy Working Group
brings together point people from all of the essential departments to resolve
company requests quickly and effectively. We hear regularly from companies how
accessible the key officials are and how quickly they can get their doors open.

There are primarily four interconnected pathways of economic development in this
area of Clean Energy and Clean Technology for New Mexico. The state is actively
working on all of these pathways to promote the economic development and
prosperity of the state.

Green Technology Push: Leveraging the R&D resources of the state to develop a
vibrant and robust community of active entrepreneurs and start-up companies.
Growing the Green Manufacturing/Production Cluster: Growing the emerging
cluster of existing clean tech manufacturers and biofuels producers to attract
similar companies.

Renewable Utility-Scale Generation: Pushing forward the development of solar,
geothermal and wind projects in NM.

Energy Efficiency and Distributed Generation: Promoting the expansion of
existing small-scale solar and wind installations and energy efficiency
retrofits of our building stock.

Any companies, entrepreneurs, researchers and individuals who are interested in
contributing to New Mexico's growing leadership in the New Energy Economy should
contact Brendan Miller, Green Economy Manager, at brendan.miller [at]
state.nm.us.

 

Promoting Green Building Design, Construction and Operation, Sustainable Living,
Clean Technology, Renewable Energy Resources and Energy Independence