Suedeen Kelly taught at UNM’s School of Law for about 12 years before she was appointed by President George W. Bush to the commissioner of the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission.
Kelly said it is an honor to come back to UNM to discuss renewable energy. Her speech will focus on the challenges of building clean energy transmission as a broad issue, but also specific to New Mexico.
“I hope to explain how the development of transmission for clean energy resources is different from the development of transmission for traditional resources, and that the challenges presented by the development of transmission for clean energy are things that need to be tackled by our state and federal policy makers,” she said.
Bill White, senior advisor to Americans for Clean Energy Grid and president of Norton White Energy, said the summit will focus on similar topics to Kelly’s discussion.
“The motivation for doing this is to address the problem of environmental problems, particularly the global climate change that we are faced with,” he said.
The summit is part of a larger project called the Energy Future Coalition which is part of United Nations Foundation. The first summit was in Portland, Oregon in 2010. On average, there are 100 to 200 people at each summit.
“The problem that we have, particularly with wind and solar, is that we don’t have the infrastructure to get them from the best resources to the places where people work and live,” White said.
Wind and solar powers can’t be transmitted by train or pipelines, the only way to move the power is through electrical power lines, White said. The event will attempt to address these issues among others.
New Mexico’s unusual combination of solar energy and wind energy will be a hot topic. New Mexico has the best solar energy in the whole country, he said. According to the U.S. Department of Energy, as of 2011, the state of New Mexico was ranked third in the United States.
“New Mexico has enough resources to power the state hundreds of times over. New Mexico is a great example of a state that has enormous high quality resources that are barely developed because the infrastructure is not in place to develop them,” White said.
By coming to New Mexico, the summit will attempt to spotlight projects that are already taking place and bring awareness to the potential in the state, he said. Working with students is also a primary focus.
Adrian Oglesby, director of the Utton Transboundary Resource Center, said part of the intent of having the event on campus is to involve students, as well as discussing how to help New Mexico benefit economically from renewable energy.
The center will also be hosting the clean energy summit, he said. The Utton Transboundary Resource is located on campus and is often associated with advising the legislature.
“I really hope (the event) gets people thinking about how we do have an abundance of the energy resources in New Mexico,” he said. “It’s a state that’s suffering on the job side, suffering on the economy side — this presents a wonderful opportunity for us to create jobs and create money.”
Oglesby said he wonders if the state can set the stage for the rest of the U.S. as far as renewable energies go.
In terms of speakers on the panel, there are some great minds that will be talking, he said.
According to the press release, the event will feature keynote addresses from U.S. Sen. Martin Heinrich, D-N.M., as well as Kelly.
"(All of the speakers) are all exceedingly well qualified,” Kelly said.
The issue of transmission will be key in discussing renewable energies. Each of the panels hone in on the topic with titles such as “Does transmission have a role in achieving environmental goals?” and “Are transmission expansion and upgrades compatible with both small and large scale energy?” and others.
“It’s pretty exciting,” Oglesby said. “I think it’s going to be a good event.”
Moriah Carty is a culture editor for the Daily Lobo. She can be reached at cultureassistant @dailylobo.com or on Twitter @MoriahCarty.
Southwest Clean Energy Transmission Summit
Science and Technology Park Rotunda
Wednesday, 9 a.m. to 4:30 p.m.