NewEnergyNews: NEW ENERGY FINDS HOME IN SOLAR NEW MEXICO

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    Founding Editor Herman K. Trabish

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    Friday, June 27, 2008

    NEW ENERGY FINDS HOME IN SOLAR NEW MEXICO

    New Mexico Governor Bill Richardson has worked hard for 4 years to get his state its new nickname. Once “the Land of Enchantment,” New Mexico is now also “the Clean Energy State.”

    Richardson has pushed dozens of incentive programs, costing the state a lot of money. His plan? Drive demand for a resource he knows New Mexico has in abundance: New Energy. When its home-grown energy starts selling, New Mexico's economy will boom.

    Sarah Cottrell, energy policy adviser to Richardson: "We have so much potential here for wind and solar that it far exceeds the demand."

    A New Energy/state-of-the-art green community at Mesa del Sol on Albuquerque’s outskirts cost the state an investment of $10 million. Will it pay off?

    Schott Solar, the world’s biggest solar cell producer, subsequently decided to build a $100 million plant in Albuquerque.

    Udo Ungeheuer, chairman, Schott Solar: "According to both industry analysts and our projections, the market for solar energy will double over the next five years…"

    Frustrated by gridlock on New Energy development at the federal level, Richardson pushed through a state Renewable Electricity Standard (RES) and joined with California’s Governor Arnold Schwartzenegger and other western state leaders to form a regional emissions trading market.

    Cottrell, on the governors’ action: "…the feds aren't acting fast enough…"

    Unfortunately, the governors can’t do much about the failure of Congress to extend investment tax credits (ITCs) and production tax credits (PTCs) vital to the sustained growth of the New Energy industries. Congress’s pitiful failure may slow action until the 2nd half of 2009. The long-term outlook, however, remains – well – sunny.

    Richardson and Schwartzenegger have developed a friendly if aggressive competition to see who can build the bigger solar industry base.

    Cottrell: "[It’s a] pretty entertaining rivalry with Governor Schwarzenegger's people…We believe no one's done as much as fast as we have."

    The winner of the rivalry is likely to be the Governor who can get new smart transmission built and sell solar energy beyond state borders. The capacity to daily send abundant, free, clean electricity into the western grid during peak demand periods will bring a bounty to local power producers.

    It is an expensive challenge. New high voltage transmission costs $1.5 million/mile.

    Richardson got out ahead of Arnold by making New Mexico the first US state to form a renewable energy transmission authority (RETA). The RETA will facilitate new grid financing and construction. Texas, Nevada, and California have initiatives in the works.

    With Advent Solar’s Mesa del Sol community and the new Schott Solar plant set to go as soon as the federal incentives make them practical and the RETA already getting the marketplace busy building new smart transmission, Richardson has almost all the pieces assembled. He only needs a partner in the nation’s capital.

    Misty Benham, spokeswoman, Advent Solar: "[Advent chose New Mexico due to the] fact that [New Mexico officials] stood up and fought for us…They're very aware of renewables here."


    It doesn't get much redder than this. (click to enlarge)

    Green energy blooms in the desert
    Elana Schor, June 24, 2008 (UK Guardian)

    WHO
    Governor Bill Richardson (D-NM); Advent Solar; Schott Solar (Udo Ungeheuer, chairman)

    WHAT
    - Richardson has pushed through at least 37 incentives measures to generate New Energy in New Mexico. Advent Solar is about to expand the state’s New Energy economy and solar energy capacity dramatically with its Mesa del Sol New Energy community.

    "Solar Home" captures the unique charms of New Mexico, "the Clean Energy State." (click for more Arges images)

    WHEN
    - Richardson was elected Governor of New Mexico in 2002.
    - Richardson pushed through the New Mexico RES in March 2007. It requires the state’s utilities to obtain 20% of their power from New Energy sources by 2020 (also 10% by 2011 and 15% by 2015). (Investor-owned utilities have a 20% solar carve out, a 20% wind carve out and a 10% biomass/geothermal carve out.)

    WHERE
    - New Mexico’s insolation is the 2nd-best in the U.S.
    - Mesa del Sol is 12,900 acres.
    - Schott Solar, based in Germany, is building a new, $100 million plant in Albuquerque.

    WHY
    - New Mexico’s population is 2 million.
    - The state of New Mexico has made a $10 million investment in Advent Solar’s Mesa del Sol.
    - The new installation will be a proving ground for advent Solar’s ‘back contact” solar panels, a cutting-edge, efficiency-enhancing design improvement.
    - Schott Solar is the world’s 8th biggest solar cell manufacturer.

    click to enlarge

    QUOTES
    - Misty Benham, spokeswoman, Advent Solar, on the company’s primary business of exporting solar panels to Europe: "It's good for the trade deficit and good for the environment…"
    - Lisa Szot, New Mexico RETA chief: "States need to be involved in transmission…The federal government isn't involved in permitting and siting [of new power lines]. That even goes down to the county level."

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