Editorial: Here comes the sun power

Posted 2/15/19

Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham has made it clear she wants New Mexico powered by renewable energy.We applaud her recent moves to make that happen. And we celebrate our local Taos County power provider Kit Carson Electric Cooperative for being ahead of the renewable energy curve.

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Editorial: Here comes the sun power

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Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham has made it clear she wants New Mexico powered by renewable energy.

We applaud her recent moves to make that happen.

And we celebrate our local Taos County power provider Kit Carson Electric Cooperative for being ahead of the renewable energy curve.

The governor moved quickly, first issuing an executive order in January that commits the state to addressing climate change regionally by decreasing New Mexico’s greenhouse gas emissions. Lujan Grisham is among 21 governors to join the U.S. Climate Alliance, all of whom are committed to the principles of the international Paris Agreement to address the human causes of climate change. Under the executive order, a task force will prepare a road map for the state to move away from its dependence on oil, gas and coal for both energy and our economy. The task force is charged with producing a report by Sept. 15.

Among legislation the governor backs is Senate Bill 518, which restores a state solar development tax credit for installing solar energy systems on homes, businesses and agricultural projects. “In a state that ranks second for solar potential nationwide, it’s crucial that New Mexicans have an easier path to installing solar on their own homes and businesses,” Gov. Lujan Grisham said.

Senate Bill 489, the Energy Transition Act, sets a goal for utilities and rural electric cooperatives in the state to produce half their energy needs from renewable energy by 2030. The goal is to produce 80 percent of energy needs from renewable sources by 2040.

Kit Carson Electric Cooperative has been installing solar energy systems at a steady clip in the last few years, working with Guzman Energy and Taos’ two local solar installers.

A total of nine megawatts of solar energy have been installed in several communities, at Taos High School and at the town of Taos Wastewater Treatment Plant. By 2022, KCEC expects to have enough solar arrays installed to produce 34 percent of the total demand by customers, and 100 percent of daytime energy when the sun is shining.

KCEC made a controversial and expensive decision to dump its contract with Tri-State Generation and Transmission Association, which relies heavily on fossil fuel power, and limited the amount of renewable energy its members could install.

Now, in light of the governor’s mandates, the latest dire reports about climate change and the need to shift to renewable energy sources, KCEC’s foresight makes sense.

The Taos-based cooperative is participating with the Department of Energy and the National Renewable Energy Laboratory on testing and validating new technologies such as batteries for storing solar energy.

We applaud KCEC’s efforts in renewable energy and look forward to the moment that CEO Luis Reyes Jr.’s vision is realized – stable electric bills with electricity completely produced by the sun.

And we like the governor’s actions to move the state in the right energy direction.

A firefighter’s greatest danger

Fighting fires is risky. Firefighters train to reduce the risks in battling a blaze.

But one risk that’s changed is the one most endangering their lives now – exposure to new kinds of man-made chemicals in the ash from structure fires. Those chemicals are putting brave firefighters in danger of developing cancers.

And the number of fires they are likely to face will increase as climate change, drought and higher temperatures come home to roost in Taos and elsewhere.

The efforts by the Taos firefighters and the town council to equip their teams with the best protective equipment (fire suits and masks) and reduce exposure to the chemicals are timely. We hope lawmakers devote a portion of the state’s budget to ensuring volunteer firefighters around the state are also properly equipped.

Helping protect one’s community from devastating fires shouldn’t have to be a death sentence for firefighters.

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