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These windmills near Hatch are part of New Mexico's growing wind-energy industry, which recently surpassed 1,000 megawatts of generating capacity. (MarilynHaddrill/iStockphoto)

NM Wind Energy Industry Reaches Major Milestone

SANTA FE, N.M. – New Mexico’s wind-energy industry has reached a major milestone, and analysts say the state is well-positioned to expand its renewable power capacity. Industry experts say the state has excellent wind resources, and investors already have put almost $2 billion into developing wind energy in the state.

John Hensley, manager of industry data and analysis for the American Wind Energy Association, said the state’s wind-energy capacity is growing rapidly.

“In 2015, there was significant development in New Mexico,” he said. “We actually saw it surpass 1,000 megawatts of installed capacity, joining what we call the Gigawatt Club, states that have more than a gigawatt installation.”

In 2015, Hensley said, wind power was 6.3 percent of all the power generated in New Mexico, above the national average of 4.7 percent. Hensley said the state’s wind-energy capacity is expected to grow, with an additional 300 megawatts coming online this year, and more projects in the planning stages

Currently, New Mexico has 14 wind-energy projects that support more than 1,000 jobs and generate enough power for 189,000 homes. Although New Mexico can’t compete with Texas and California in terms of generating capacity, Hensley said, it is significantly ahead of other states in the region.

“Historically, the inland Western states that we’ve seen have traditionally not been major players in wind power,” he said, “A lot of the development tends to happen east of those states or even west in the California region.”

Statistics show that wind energy in New Mexico also has a significant effect on the environment, replacing almost 400,000 tons of carbon dioxide each year, the equivalent of taking 83,000 cars off the roads. By 2020, New Mexico will require that 20 percent of all power comes from renewable resources.

New Mexico wind-energy data is online at awea.files.cms-plus.com.

Mark Richardson, Public News Service

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