State Republican Sen. Sue Wilson told a small audience that wind could bring money to New Mexico during an Energy Update Forum in Rodey Theater Sunday.
Bill Richardson, former U.S. Energy Secretary, was the invited keynote speaker for the event but did not show up. Members of the Earth Day Coalition of New Mexico, which sponsored the event, said he never confirmed that he was coming.
Wilson did not have to get on stage to speak to the audience of less than 10 people — Wilson’s fiancÇ, media representatives, two organizers and a few others. Instead, she spoke in an aisle by the seats.
Wilson represents District 19, which covers Santa Fe, Bernalillo and Torrence Counties. She told the group that she is sponsoring a bill that offers tax credits to businesses as an incentive to produce renewable energy. She said natural resources such as coal, gas and oil are running out and wind and hydrogen power could bring energy and jobs to New Mexico.
She said wind and hydrogenpower have come a long way in the past five years and now can yield close to the same amount of energy as coal and gas. New Mexico has major wind pockets by Clovis and Portales, Wilson said, which could make renewable energy profitable for the state. She said the latest wind turbines built within the last five years are highly advanced, can pivot with the wind and turn slower than the earlier versions.
“They’re slow enough that the birds don’t catch in them,” she said.
She said Texas has already started taking advantage of its wind pockets and could be one of New Mexico’s biggest competitors.
“We’d better hurry,” she said.
Wilson said tax credits are necessary to increase the technology and use of renewable energy in New Mexico because it is a poor state. She said her bill calls for an $8 million tax credit.
“It’s expensive,” she said.
Lorie Barzano, communication chairwoman for the Earth Day Coalition of New Mexico, said she was disappointed that more people didn’t show up for the Energy Update Forum.
“The turnout was terrible,” she said. “Hopefully, this isn’t an indication of the public’s concern for the environment.”
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Barzano said she had talked with Richardson’s representatives but never knew for sure if he would speak at the event, but she was glad to hear Wilson speak about renewable energy.
“I think it’s great that she has realized that the technology on this stuff is becoming so highly advanced,” she said.
Barzano said the coalition has been working on Earth Day events for about six months. Though it was rainy and cloudy, she said about 24 people showed up for Sunday’s campus clean up and collected about 20 bags of litter.
She added that Sunday’s Earth Day festival outside of Popejoy Hall had about a two-thirds no-show rate.
Barzano said the coalition is working on an Earth Day in July festival, but has not yet confirmed where it will be.