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Renewable Energy Outpaces Nuclear, in New Mexico and Nation


Thursday, October 6, 2016   

SANTA FE, N.M. — Renewable energy generation is outpacing nuclear power in the state and nationwide according to two new government reports.

The Energy Information Administration's latest Monthly Energy Review revealed that in the first half of 2016, domestic renewable energy production was 25 percent greater than nuclear power production. A separate report from the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission, said that renewable energy generating capacity is now double that of nuclear.

Sanders Moore, state director at Environment New Mexico, said the state is ranked 13th in the country for solar generating capacity - a ranking she finds disappointing given the hot, sunny climate.

"Other states are taking advantage of solar energy a lot faster than New Mexico,” Moore said. "States like Massachusetts, New Jersey and North Carolina all get more solar energy than we do. For the second-sunniest state in the country, we should be doing a lot better than that."

New Mexico doesn't have any nuclear plants, but it does import some nuclear power. Moore said the state is also the 12th windiest in the nation and has great wind power potential.

The government's definition of renewables in energy production includes biofuels, biomass, geothermal, hydropower, solar, and wind.

Moore said with the right policies in place, New Mexico could capitalize on its abundant sun and wind resources, and generate 14,000 times more power than residents use, thus becoming a net exporter of energy.

"Another benefit of renewable energy is it creates a lot of jobs,” she said. "We have about 2,000 people employed directly by the solar industry across the state of New Mexico, and about 1,000 people employed in the wind industry."

Conservation groups like Environment New Mexico would like to see the state raise its renewable portfolio standard and work toward a goal of getting 100 percent of its energy from in-state, renewable sources.

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