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Gila Riparian Preserve Fall colors at Gila Preserve in New Mexico. The Gila Riparian Preserve protects more than 1000 acres of the Southwest's fragile riparian habitat and the verdant gallery woodland along the Gila River, the last of the Southwest's major free-flowing rivers. © Michael Fugagli

Stories in New Mexico

Clean Energy: Preparing for a Changing Climate

Building a Coalition of Clean Energy Stakeholders

As a step forward in The Nature Conservancy’s goal to build a long-term coalition of diverse clean energy stakeholders, TNC convened a bipartisan group of New Mexico state legislators, utility industry representatives, local government officials, and others for a half-day clean energy workshop in Albuquerque, NM. Clean energy stakeholders are important advocates for supporting policies and projects that reduce greenhouse gas emissions in multiple sectors.

Most activity on energy policy in the United States is at the state level, and so the intent of the workshop was to provide the 30 state legislators who attended with a keen understanding of what can be achieved. The legislators varied in experience, from Senate Majority Leader and Chair of the House Energy Committee to several newly-elected legislators with no prior energy experience. All were there to gain the tools necessary to debate and enact clean energy legislation beginning with the January 2019 session.

At the November 2018 workshop, attendees learned from a team of expert policy faculty in a variety of issue areas: energy storage, grid modernization, renewable energy and electric transportation. Experts from Colorado State University’s Center for New Energy Economy (CNEE) presented on a number of topics and the session was opened by former Colorado Governor Bill Ritter, Jr., who is also the founder and director of CNEE.

During his four years as Colorado Governor from 2007-2011, Ritter championed 57 bills to put renewable energy policies and programs that moved Colorado into a leadership position in affordable, clean energy. Colorado’s innovative approach generated an economic boom in what Governor Ritter termed the “New Energy Economy.” Today, Colorado is still considered a leader in clean energy solutions.  

Ritter was joined in conversation by Dr. Dan Arvizu, Chancellor of New Mexico State University. Dr. Arvizu has a distinguished career in advanced energy research and development and materials. In 2005, he was appointed the 8th Director of the U.S. Department of Energy’s National Renewable Energy Laboratory in Golden, Colorado and became the first Hispanic Lab Director in the history of any of the 17 U.S. Department of Energy’s National Labs.

Ritter and Arvizu discussed the principles of bringing together diverse constituencies to have a positive conversation about energy alternatives and doing the right thing for the environment and economy. Their discussion focused on the enormous opportunities for growth of clean energy in New Mexico and its benefits, including making the state more competitive on a national level.

Faculty also presented resources like the State Policy Opportunity Tracker (SPOT) for Clean Energy, a 50-state clean energy policy gap analysis; the Advanced Energy Legislative Tracker, a database that tracks all introduced state clean energy legislation; and the Clean Energy Policy Guide for State Legislatures, a guide that outlines key policy design.

As the session wrapped, Ritter said to Arvizu, “Darn I miss working with you!” It was clear from their conversation and the engagement of New Mexico legislators that policy action is on the horizon.