Governor Unveils New State Energy Plan

Courtesy/EMNRD

STATE News:

  • Provides direction for 21st century energy economy

CARLSBAD — Today, Gov. Susana Martinez unveiled a sweeping new energy policy and implementation plan for the State of New Mexico, entitled: “Seizing our Energy Potential: Creating a More Diverse Economy in New Mexico.”

Among other things, the blueprint calls for an “all of the above” approach to energy development that promotes the production of all sources of energy as a means of creating jobs, diversifying a key sector of the economy, and supporting our nation’s efforts to achieve energy independence.

“New Mexico is one of the most energy-rich and energy-diverse states in the nation, and we have an excellent opportunity to utilize this position to grow our economy and create more jobs,” Martinez said. “Improving our energy infrastructure, responsibly developing and producing energy of all types, and better preparing our workforce for the needs of our energy sector are all critical components not only of a strong economic future, but of helping lead America to energy independence.”

New Mexico’s 2015 Energy Policy and Implementation Plan is the first comprehensive energy policy for the state in nearly 25 years.

Key components or initiatives within the plan include:

  • Improving New Mexico’s Energy Infrastructure – From new rail lines to improved electric transmission, our state can better move our energy and its products to markets in Southwest and Southeast United States, and into Mexico and other global markets. In particular, rail from the Four Corners region to I-40 would reduce the cost of transporting coal, crude oil, and agricultural and other non-energy products from northwest New Mexico to markets throughout the state and beyond. Such improvements would also allow materials for energy production to be brought into New Mexico at a lower cost to producers. And as New Mexico’s port at Santa Teresa becomes a key corridor for trade between the U.S. and Mexico, opportunities exist to move New Mexico natural gas into Mexico, which creates new demand for an energy resource that has recently been in oversupply.
  • Promoting Greater Production of ALL Sources of Energy, Especially Low-Carbon Sources – An “all of the above” approach to energy development contemplates identifying and overcoming barriers to production that undoubtedly exist in each sector of the state’s energy economy. This may include exploring new energy storage options which would expand opportunities for wind and solar power. Also, reducing certain “soft” costs associated with solar production, or spurring greater demand for natural gas through the use of tax credits to incentivize natural gas refueling stations and the purchase of natural gas vehicles. At a much larger level, the plan also contemplates building upon New Mexico’s current renewable portfolio standard by establishing a low-carbon energy portfolio standard that would dramatically improve air quality by stimulating production of all types of low-carbon, cleaner energy sources.
  • Improving Energy Workforce Training at Higher Education Institutions – The energy sector has growing workforce demands that range from highly skilled to entry-level positions. Many jobs in the energy industry require science and technology training from the “STEM” (science, technology, engineering, and math) disciplines. Others require specialized training offered by colleges. Recommendations include encouraging colleges and universities to align their curricula with core energy workforce needs and supporting college training programs in applied energy technologies.
  • Reducing Fresh Water Consumption in Energy Production Processes – This plan will mark the first time that water and energy planning have been combined in New Mexico. Recommendations for a renewed focus on water re-use and conservation include using non-potable water in energy production and exploring opportunities to recycle water already utilized. New Mexico is home to significant reserves of brackish water, and more must be done to make utilizing this water resource more cost-effective.
  • Streamlining Regulatory Processes – Removing unnecessary burdens on energy industry operations will generate greater production, growth, and investment. For the oil and gas industry, this requires the state to assert itself as a primary regulator and work with other permitting entities with land ownership apart from the State of New Mexico to attempt to standardize forms and processes to the greatest extent possible. For newer energy technologies, it requires the state to monitor regulatory obstacles and increase clarity in permitting processes as the technology develops. Regulatory balance and timely response from government officials can be achieved without compromising on health, safety, and environmental standards.
  • Exploring, and Potentially Seizing on, New Energy Opportunities – As technology improves and global demands for various types of energy shift over time, New Mexico must be prepared to take advantage of new opportunities. For example, new energy storage and battery technologies offer great promise for the capture and more efficient use of our energy resources, and small modular nuclear reactors could one day provide a substantial amount of reliable and clean power to jurisdictions throughout the state. Additionally, the State can be a leader in energy efficiency improvements by working with operators that make up-front investments in efficiency upgrades at public buildings that are paid off over time by the cost savings realized in lower energy bills. And, as the demand for coal in New Mexico wanes, opportunities to export coal in collaboration with the Navajo Nation to North American, European and Asian markets must be pursued.

“Energy produced in New Mexico is not only essential to powering our daily lives – it also provides essential revenue that supports our schools, hospitals, local governments, and communities,” said David Martin, secretary of the Energy, Minerals and Natural Resources Department. “As the fourth highest net energy producing state in the country, we owe it to our state’s future – and indeed, our nation’s future – to expand our role as an energy leader.”

The 2015 New Mexico Energy Plan is the result of over a year’s worth of work, during which a number of inclusive listening sessions were held throughout the state with community leaders, members of the public, and energy stakeholders. The plan will be updated at regular intervals in the future, with opportunities for public input each time.

The entire 2015 New Mexico Energy Plan can be found online at: http://www.emnrd.state.nm.us/EnergyPolicy/.