New Mexico’s potential for clean or green energy is among the nation’s best. The state’s consistent and intense sunshine, wide open spaces, and consistently strong winds has made New Mexico an elite state in renewable energy potential. Tapping these natural advantages will create jobs in green construction, solar installation, wind turbine maintenance and other “new” professions, while also calling for new skills and competencies in more traditional trades. As more homes have residential solar, for example, it will become more common and necessary for electricians to have training and certification in solar systems. The jobs associated with clean energy was one of the motivations behind the recently passed Energy Transition Act, a law that will fundamentally transform not only energy production in the state over time, but New Mexico’s economy overall.
But as green job opportunities emerge in New Mexico, it is far from given that those jobs will replace those lost from the transition away from fossil fuels or be filled equitably by New Mexicans from diverse communities and backgrounds. Lessons from other states indicate that the clean energy industry lacks diversity in regard to both gender and race/ ethnicity, and is unlikely to replace all of the jobs and revenue associated with fossil fuels unless intentional policy choices are made to make training opportunities open to all communities in New Mexico.
This report identifies best practices and recommendations to help New Mexico move into the green economy in a just and equitable way. While our report draws heavily from existing data from New Mexico and a landscape analysis of research conducted nationally, our primary focus was to include the voices of the New Mexico population to the discussion of how to prepare the state for this transition away from fossil fuel to more environmentally friendly forms of energy production.