New Mexico’s Clean Economy is Growing

In just five years, New Mexico has gone from having few clean energy economy jobs, services or products to having almost 18,000 clean economy jobs that pay an average wage of $39,000 a year. According to a new report from the Brookings Institution, New Mexico ranks 36th in the country for the size of its clean economy. A report fact sheet is available at www.brookings.edu.

New Mexico Public Regulation Commissioner Jason Marks says the state is prime real estate for taking advantage of the switch to a clean economy. “We are blessed with some of the best solar and wind resources in the United States, so we have the resources to transition to something that is sustainable over the long term.”

Looking back to 2006, Marks says, almost no companies were providing wind turbines, solar panels or services to those industries, but New Mexico’s business climate has changed since then. “Today, if you open up the yellow pages, you drive around, you go to the Web – you’ll find quite a few companies doing this kind of work.”

Marks is calling on federal policymakers such as Interior Secretary Salazar to support a further transition to a clean energy economy on New Mexico’s public, private and tribal lands.

Report Contrasts Business-as-Usual and Clean Energy for Western Power Grid

Clean Energy Vision’s new technical report, Western Grid 2050: Contrasting Futures, Contrasting Fortunes, examines two very different energy investment pathways facing the 11 Western states.

Over $200 billion will be invested in the western electricity system over the next two decades. The report detail energy resource mixes and grid operations of contrasting cases in 2030 and 2050. The report finds that with intentional policymaking and planning today, the West can successfully transition to a clean energy economy that will deliver jobs, environmental and health benefits for decades to come.

The report was released by the Western Grid Group with support from the Western Clean Energy Advocates – a broad alliance of more than 25 renewable energy industry, environmental, tribal and public health organizations and regulatory experts. Former Colorado Governor Bill Ritter joined the advocacy groups in calling for Western state leadership and regional collaboration to achieve the report’s “Clean Energy Vision.” The second phase of the report, Clean Energy Vision Policies, will be released this month. To view the report, visit: www.cleanenergyvision.org.

White House Urged to Speed Up NM Clean Energy Development

Nearly a dozen NM business leaders have written to the White House advocating that President Obama and Interior Secretary Salazar quickly transition to clean energy using public, private and tribal lands. One – David Melton, chief executive officer of Sacred Power Corp., – delivered the letter and message in person.

Before Obama left on vacation, he met with people at various stops in the Midwest. Melton, who encountered the president in Iowa, says the letter urges the president to work more quickly with tribal, federal, state and private partners to create local jobs while protecting the nation’s treasured lands using solar power. “You have no carbon dioxide, you have no fossil fuels that have to be dug up and processed, you have no nitrous oxide, you have no sulfur dioxide, you have no mercury.”

Switching to solar, Melton says, would be good for the economy through the entire development process. “You have job creation at the module level, at the inverter level and then at the construction level – these are all large-scale manufacturing operations. And then, after that, [there are jobs at] the operation level.

The Interior Department is finalizing its plan for siting solar energy projects on public lands in six Western states. It has identified three study areas, which encompass more than 100,000 acres as potential solar energy zones in New Mexico. Information about the solar zones is online at doi.gov.

YouthWorks Green Jobs Apprentice Program

New Plumbing/HVAC Pilot Program at SFCC

Santa Fe YouthWorks and the SF Community College are collaborating to create a unique opportunity for youth interested in technical training in Plumbing and Heating, Ventilation and Air Conditioning during a semester-long certification course. In partnership with local employers and professionals, SFCC will provide an innovative, high quality pathway to journeyman level training for local young people. Beginning this fall, the program will enroll eight young people on full scholarships while also providing paid part-time internships at local businesses, along with other support and tutoring.

YouthWorks is seeking employers interested in housing one or two interns for up to three months. The interns will be paid by the program, at no cost to the employer. As partners in the program, participating businesses will be an integral part of all publicity and marketing aspects of the project, and their service and commitment to community improvement will be promoted.

For more information, contact Xochitl Campos, Job Developer at YouthWorks: 505.470.8891 or xochitl@santafeyouthworks.org

LEED Gold Award for SFCC’s Health and Sciences Center

The U.S. Green Building Council has certified SF Community College’s Health and Sciences Center at the Gold Level under the Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) for New Construction. The building earned 40 documented and approved points. The design carefully considers sustainable design principles in all regards, including energy-efficient mechanical systems, high performance glass, architectural and tree shading, water conservation and water-efficient landscaping. The main lobby features the first LEED Gold building in the Southwest to have a “living wall” bio-filter, a 14-foot high by 20-foot wide vertical hydroponic plant wall that is tied to the HVAC system to cleanse the air of indoor air pollutants by reducing the level of contaminants and provide superior air quality.

The central cooling system maintains temperature and humidity and saves the college energy by reducing the amount of mechanical cooling required in the summer by incorporating evaporative cooling methods. Clerestory windows provide light into the rooms and hallways while a series of cor-ten steel clad canopies and deep overhangs provide shade.

The nearly 48,000 square foot facility offers state-of-the-art studies for careers in health sciences. It also houses a dental clinic operated by La Familia Medical Center that provides dental health services to families and individuals in need, while also serving as a clinical training site for SFCC dental students.

New Solar Arrays in New Mexico

After two months of construction, last month Luna, New Mexico unveiled a new solar array. The 50-acre, 5-megawatt PNM facility consisting of 78,000 solar panels is capable of producing enough energy to supply about 1,600 average New Mexico homes. Construction of the project employed more than 100 locals, but it will not require ongoing full-time jobs.

Another solar project recently completed is the installation of photovoltaic panels on two Albuquerque Smith’s Food & Drug Stores. The solar energy output from these two stores is 320,000-kilowatt hours combined, completely eliminating the need of fossil fuel sources. The systems on the roof of each store consist of 442 panels, which convert sunlight into DC power. A news release from the company says the energy savings from the two systems could heat and cool 30 homes in NM for one year; the equivalent of planting 57 acres of trees or removing 40 cars from the road. Affordable Solar installed the system. Smith’s has also launched energy conservation programs within all of the company’s 25 NM stores.

NM Environmental Law Center wins Piñon Award

Each year, the Santa Fe Community Foundation celebrates the work of area nonprofits with the Piñon Award – the only local award devoted exclusively to recognizing nonprofit organizations. This year, the foundation will present one of four awards to the New Mexico Environmental Law Center (NMELC).

The “Quiet Inspiration Award” is given to an “un-sung hero” organization whose hallmark is to work quietly and respectfully among a wide range of people in the community. “The Center’s nomination struck the Awards Committee as the epitome of behind-the-scenes dedication,” says Brian Byrnes, the SF Community Foundation’s President & CEO. “Since 1987 the NMELC has worked on behalf of all New Mexicans,” says Byrnes. “Protecting our water, lands and air, in addition to working on drilling issues, indigenous sacred lands and water quality issues, the NMELC provides free and low-cost legal services for underserved communities needing to protect their natural resources.

Other nonprofits being recognized include: Southwest CARE (Es Mejor Saber program), the Santa Fe Alliance (Visionary Award) and Santa Fe Mountain Center (Tried & True Award).

The awards ceremony, which is free and open to the public, is on October 4, 6 pm at the Lensic Performing Arts Center. Tickets for the after party at the Eldorado Hotel at 7 pm are $75 per person, and may be purchased through the Lensic box office, or by calling 505.988.1234.

Reuse Drop-off at BuRRT Recycling Center Being Studied

Staff and local artists have begun looking at what is being thrown away at Santa Fe’s Buckman Road Recycling and Transfer Station (BuRRT) to find out what could be reused. They want to assess if a reusable item drop-off at the BuRRT could work. They will be assessing furniture, household items, landscape materials and art supplies over a six-month period.

Local artists Nancy Judd and Nicole Morris created the concept for an art installation made of recycled materials that were headed to the dump. The installation called Consumption is part of the NM Arts Centennial Project Space and will be installed on the Santa Fe Plaza above the Plaza Bakery March 30 through May 4, 2012. The two efforts came together in this waste characterization study.

BuRRT is not accepting reusable items at this time. The program is in a study phase only; so local thrift stores are the places to take gently used items to keep them out of the waste stream. Also, this waste characterization study needs to evaluate what is being thrown away every day, so customers are asked not to take anything special to BuRRT.

The city of Santa Fe and the Santa Fe New Mexican’s Save A Ton campaign will report information about the study and more on the art installation at www.facebook.com/SaveATon. For more information contact Regina Wheeler at 955.2209 or rawheeler@santafenm.gov or Nancy Judd at 505.577.9712 or nancy@recyclerunway.com.