New data released Tuesday from the Southwest Public Policy Institute poll shows that 7 in 10 New Mexicans prioritize affordable and reliable energy over production of green energy. There were over 3,000 respondents when the survey concluded in April.

Less than 4 in 10 of those who responded strongly agreed that it is important for utility providers to derive electricity from wind and solar.

“I think the most important generalization we can infer from this survey is that people are questioning New Mexico utility providers’ ability to provide affordable and reliable energy,” said Patrick Brenner, president of the Southwest Public Policy Institute. “In light of mounting pressures from the state’s Energy Transition Act and Governor Michelle Lujan Grisham’s tendency to import California-esque energy policy, many rural New Mexicans are concerned about just keeping the lights on.”

All New Mexico utility providers are working to convert energy production to renewable sources under the governor’s Energy Transition Act (ETA). The ETA was enacted in 2019 and mandates zero carbon resources by 2045. Some critics have labeled the law as New Mexico’s version of the “Green New Deal”.

The Albuquerque Journal’s editorial board offered insightful highlights of the looming energy crisis: “PNM, the state’s largest utility company, announced […] it won’t have enough power in July and August to meet peak consumer demands and is warning customers they may face rolling blackouts this summer.”

According to the poll, only 6 in 10 New Mexicans are aware of the predicted summer blackouts while 7 in 10 were aware of the 50% renewable portfolio standard to be implemented by 2030.

Increasing public outcry over the energy crisis prompted PNM to delay the closure of the San Juan generating station, an aging coal-fired power plant that PNM aimed to abandon as early as this summer. The closure is delayed through summer of 2022.

New Mexico’s largest utility provider has previously exited other clean energy options like the Palo Verde nuclear plant.

The short term stop-gap measures of delaying coal plant closures conflicts with the long term actions of exiting nuclear plant leases. Is clean energy truly a priority for New Mexico utility providers? Or is Governor Michelle Lujan Grisham merely trying to avoid the public relations catastrophe that comes with rolling blackouts?

Analyzing the polling data, Brenner said, “I believe New Mexicans are coming to the realization that the Energy Transition Act is not in the best interests of New Mexico.”

The Southwest Public Policy Institute worked with New Mexico Public Regulation Commissioner Jefferson L. Byrd to analyze the results of the survey.

The survey concluded with a 94.9% completion rate and 3,253 total survey respondents.

The survey results can be accessed here. All of the anonymous individual survey responses are available for inspection here.

5 replies on “Poll: 7 of 10 New Mexicans Prefer Affordable and Reliable Energy”

Closing San Juan Generating Station is a HUGE mistake. I was involved in the construction of the plant, pollution devices, and switching facilities. There are at least 10 more years of useful operation along with the fact that there is plenty of fuel, ON SITE, to power it. This will be a hug mess if they are allowed to move forward. The alternative energy options are DAYLIGHT options. Storage is not available to care the PM hours. How do you spell crisis?

I am glad to hear that New Mexican’s are smarter than there politicians. If we follow California’s lead we will be paying 4X the price price of power we are paying now. When you have to have 4 power sources (solar, wind, battery backup, and gas turbine) for reliable energy how can you expect not to be paying 4X times for it. I worked at San Juan generating station for 20 years from the 70’s to the 90’s and saw a poorly ran utility run the plant into the ground. PNM will follow what the politicians say to as long as they can make money. The ETA is a good mine for PNM. Over the last 40 years PNM has been depreciating San Juan and should have been putting aside money for retirement of the units. With ETA PNM will get millions to retire plants that are totally depreciated. The rate payers have been paying a charge to go to retire the plants and now they are going to get millions more for the same thing. This is why PNM loves ETA. If we want to go renewable it would be good to wait until the technology to be available and tested before we tear down and destroy our present reliable and cost effective energy supply.

Unfortunately the green revolution becomes a war on rural New Mexicans. We are now faced with ruinous gasoline prices that limit our ability to get to urban resources, and rapidly rising energy prices. Come winter this will get serious, and I might point out that burning more wood for heat does not help the ecology. A pox on the smug self-righteous green revolution that largely ignores the Chinese, Russian, and Indian economies pouring far more carbon into the air, while punishing the rural poor of America.

Thanks to Jeff Byrd of the NMPRC for allowing the taxpayers to comment on affordable and reliable energy. Our elected officials are not representing the constituents of New Mexico with “green energy “. Only oil and natural gas can provide consistent energy for hospitals and water treatment. Everyone must have reliable energy source for heating and cooling needs. Of note, the NM Oil and Gas Workers Association has endorsed Greg Zanetti for Governor and Ant Thornton for Lt. Governor.

The survey did not assess public attitude or preferences regarding small scale nuclear power plants. Grid maintenance and expansion could be reduced if fossil generated electricity did not have to serve remote sites. NM has ample space to be the leader in small scale nuclear generation.

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