Albuquerque to move toward renewable energy

The Duke City could be using 100 percent renewable energy within the next four years if Albuquerque Mayor, Tim Keller get his way.

On Nov. 21, 2018, Keller wrapped up his first year in office by announcing his multi-component plan, which involves a partnership with Power New Mexico (PNM), to move the city to 100 percent renewable energy.

According to Keller’s office, Albuquerque currently receives four percent of its electricity from solar and other renewable energy sources — a statistic Keller hopes to increase to 58 percent by 2020, and 100 percent by 2022.

Albuquerque Mayor, Tim Keller, plan on the city being 100% Renewable Energy by 2022.

As a part of the PNM Solar Direct Program, New Mexico’s largest power company will be building a new 50-megawatt solar field, according to a press release from the Mayor’s office. The city will be subscribing to 25 megawatts of electricity every year as a part of the partnership with PNM.

However, the Public Regulation Commission must approve the deal before the City can receive the desired electricity. According to the Mayor’s office, that much energy a year from the solar field will initially cover 58 percent of the city’s energy usage.  

The Chairman, President and CEO of PNM, Pat Vincent-Collawn, said in Keller’s press release that the company is excited to work with the City of Albuquerque and Mayor Keller to work towards more green and sustainable energy resources.

Other steps to reaching the 100 percent renewable energy goal includes adding more solar sources to city facilities, installing more efficient street lights, and introducing electric and alternative fuel options, along with other measures that would reduce overall energy consumption.

“We are really trying to put ourselves out there as a leader for the community by doing,” said Kelsey Rader, the newly appointed sustainability officer for the Mayor’s office.

Rader estimates that by 2022, once the plan has been fully implemented, the equivalent of 93,000 metric tons of carbon dioxide emissions will be removed every year.

In June 2018, Keller announced the city would be installing solar panels on 12 city-owned buildings as the first phase of a $25 million investment, with the goal of making Albuquerque a leader in solar power.

“Just by seeing more solar panels, by shifting the culture [around renewable energy], hopefully we can slowly change the rest of the city, not just city facilities,” said Dr. Benjamin Warner, an assistant professor at the University of New Mexico’s geography department. “That would be a huge change.”

The main Albuquerque Public Library was part of the beginning phase of this investment, as reported by the Albuquerque Journal on Nov. 21, 2018. The New Mexico News Port viewed the roof of the library on Feb. 9 and there were no solar panels installed. Keller’s office could not be reached to comment on the status of the solar panel installation.

The funding behind this goal comes from Bloomberg Philanthropies, which awarded 25 cities across the U.S. $25 million in investments to commit to The Paris Agreement Climate Goal. Bloomberg Philanthropies’ grant is geared toward ultimately slowing the effects of climate change with renewable energy, according to their website.

Currently there are 34 Albuquerque-wide initiatives that will be funded by the grant. Rader said 22 of them are already underway, with 12 more in the process of being planned and implemented.

According to Rader, the ambitious initiative Keller has proposed — assuming all goes according to plan — could potentially save the city $10 million over 25 years, along with carrying out Albuquerque’s part in reaching the Paris Climate goals.

Keller said in the press release that there is no reason to not utilize New Mexico’s natural advantages, such as year-round sunshine.

“We have a responsibility to current and future generations to put the City on a path to sustainability,” Keller said.

Alanie Rael is a reporter for the New Mexico News Port, she can be contacted on Twitter @AllyRael.

Madison Spratto is a reporter for the New Mexico News Port, she can be contacted on Twitter @Madi_Spratto.