Article appeared in the New Mexican, January 30, 2000.

Alternative Energy 


The floodgates are finally opening! Recent developments around the country, and in particular, in Colorado and Texas, indicate that
electricity from renewable sources is not only sensible and most
favored by consumers, but is now economically viable as well (not to mention that passive solar heating and hot water have always been economically viable). 


The cost of wind power has fallen from about 14 cents per kilowatt-hour in 1986 to about 4 cents per kilowatt hour-a half cent or so above what PNM reports to be the cost of its coal-fired electricity. 


Fifteen thousand people now subscribe to wind power in Colorado, and Texas of all places has mandated that 2000 megawatts of renewables be added to their energy portfolio. New Mexico draws around 2200 megawatts, and the wind blows sufficiently strongly about 35% of the time. Therefore, if implemented as wind power, the Texas mandate would provide roughly 30%-40% of New Mexico's power (and more if methods to store this energy were implemented). 


Achieving similar progress in New Mexico requires simply that private citizens exercise their rights to demand clean and affordable
energy. Currently, New Mexico has no mandate to offer renewable energy, and there is similarly no mandate to require that electricity providers disclose their sources. Why should utilities have to disclose their sources? Because the air you breathe and the water you drink are directly polluted with prodigious amounts of mercury, sulfur dioxide, and greenhouse gases by many of these sources. [The following part was not printed by the New Mexican: And whether or not you believe in global warming, the fact remains that the potential addition of hundreds of billions of tons of carbon dioxide to the atmosphere during the next century (no exaggeration here!), an amount that will rival the amount of carbon presently on the Earth's surface, will unquestionably have severe and undesirable effects]. 


This year represents a significant chance for New
Mexico's Public Regulatory Commission, entrusted by the public to set the rules for private utilities such as PNM, to make significant progress in bringing New Mexico clean and affordable energy. Unfortunately, the PRC continues to side step clear rulemaking regarding mandatory disclosure requirements, despite the fact that generation disclosure is mandated as a part of New Mexico's restructuring legislation. I urge the PRC to remedy this, and encourage the citizenry of New Mexico to contact the PRC (call 1-800-947-4722, or see, as well as their legislators, and make their wishes known. 


Ben Luce

New Mexico Solar Energy [Association]

Los Alamos