New Mexico Becomes More Dedicated to Clean Energy Through Policies, Job Growth
New Mexico, Land of Enchantment, is becoming more delightful by the day. In March, it became the third state in the country to approve a 100 percent clean energy mandate. This means that by 2045, the state will have to generate all of its electricity by carbon-free resources.
In terms of energy efficiency jobs, New Mexico had the highest growth of any state last year, according to a report released this week by the non-partisan group Environmental Entrepreneurs (E2). From 2017 to 2018, the southwestern state boosted its energy efficiency jobs numbers by 11.5 percent, for a total of 5,636 by year-end.
Strengthening the RPS
Another crucial move was strengthening the state’s renewable portfolio standard (RPS), which hadn’t increased in over a decade. In the spring, the New Mexico State Senate voted in favor of increasing the RPS to 50 percent by 2030 and 80 percent by 2040.
An analysis by the National Renewable Defense Council (NRDC) found that if New Mexico generates 50 percent of its electricity from renewable sources by 2030, it would result in the following:
- Support up to 8,830 clean energy jobs, driving more than $4.6 billion in investment
- Reduce New Mexico’s carbon impact substantially – resulting in a 40 percent reduction over 2017 levels by 2030.
- Lead to 3.96 GW of new solar and wind capacity to be built throughout the state. This capacity would provide enough energy to power more than 1.5 million New Mexico homes.
- Increase energy efficiency, enabling households to save at least $5 per month.
- Reduce pollution from the state’s power plants: a 90 percent decrease in harmful nitrogen oxide emissions and a 76 percent reduction in sulfur dioxide emissions.
As you can see, a stronger RPS will effectively drive new growth in local wind and solar projects while reducing dangerous air pollution through the state. By enacting clean energy standards, customers will also see a reduction in their electric bills and billions of dollars of investment to boost the state’s economy by 2030. Thousands of new jobs in clean energy are also anticipated.
Energy Efficiency Jobs in New Mexico
Energy efficiency workers perform a variety of tasks. They may manufacture and install high-efficiency systems, windows and insulation in new and existing homes and buildings. Others may design and construct green buildings that comply with LEED standards. Others may focus on money savings for various clients – schools, municipalities, local business owners and larger corporations.
In New Mexico, a majority (77 percent) of energy efficiency employees work on Energy Star appliances or HVAC systems. They perform construction and repairs predominantly, but also work in professional services – conducting energy audits and looking for ways to help clients become more energy efficient.
Of the 950+ energy efficiency businesses, most (48 percent) are small – operating with one to five employees. between one and five employees. Thirty-one percent have between six and 19 employees and only 20 percent have 20 to 99 employees. The E2 report found no businesses dedicated to energy
Solar and Other Renewables
In the Land of Enchantment, the future of solar and renewable energy businesses as a whole is bright. For instance, the New Mexico State Land Office reported that this fiscal year, it generated more revenue in renewable business activity that any year in history. In fact, experts predict that potential revenue may exceed $1 billion. Renewable leases are contributing to much of the state’s financial growth. Solar lease payments increased more than 1,300 percent, while wind energy leases soared 400 percent this year.
And more solar jobs are on the horizon. A nonprofit think tank, the American Jobs Project, aims to identify local pathways to advanced energy employment. The organization predicts that from now through 2030, advanced solar technology can support over 6,800 jobs throughout the state of New Mexico.