SANTA ANA PUEBLO ― U.S. Sen. Tom Udall addressed the New Mexico Rural Electric Cooperative Association Wednesday during the opening session of their annual meeting.
In his remarks, Udall discussed the importance of promoting renewable energy, along with his efforts to expand rural broadband access and invest in rural infrastructure.
“For decades, member-owned electric cooperatives across New Mexico and across the nation have been the backbone of our rural communities and rural economies. And you continue to be so today,” Udall said. “You power more than half the nation’s land mass and light up more than 19 million homes, businesses, farms, and schools across 47 states. You electrify areas where investor-owned utilities will not go. And you are all important leaders in your communities.”
Udall emphasized the importance of closing the digital divide and ensuring that every home in New Mexico has access to broadband. “Universal broadband in our rural communities is as important today as electrifying rural communities and farms was in the 1930’s and ‘40’s… We know the digital divide hits rural and tribal areas hardest. We cannot let our rural and tribal communities fall behind. We must close the divide,” Udall continued.
Udall discussed the vital role that electric co-ops in New Mexico will play in moving the state to a renewable energy economy, reducing greenhouse gas emissions, and combatting the climate crisis. “We here in the Southwest are right in the bullseye of climate change. And we must do all we can to help preserve our ecosystems and our way of life for now and the future,” Udall said.
Finally, Udall discussed his plans to introduce legislation at the federal level that would double the amount of renewable energy resources by 2035. “New Mexico is leading and the rest of the country needs to follow the example: we can build renewable energy in each of our fifty states and grow new industries and jobs… Getting to a carbon-free energy society is a must for our children, our grandchildren, for our plant. We all need to be part of the solution,” Udall concluded.
As a member of the Senate Commerce and Appropriations Committees, Udall has fought to increase broadband access and bolster economic development in rural areas across New Mexico. Last year, Udall hosted a Rural Resource Roadshow to bring together federal and state agencies, nonprofits, and other organizations to share information about funding resources to support economic development and infrastructure initiatives in rural communities.