NM Energy Equity Town Hall
On August 8th, 2023, community leaders from around the state gathered at the National Hispanic Cultural Center in Albuquerque for a two-day Town Hall tackling issues of energy equity in New Mexico. The Town Hall was a capstone event for NM EPSCoR’s project—NM SMART Grid Center— a five-year, $24 million, NSF-funded project focused on research and workforce training for next-generation electric power production and delivery. The diverse group of attendees included individuals from urban, rural, and tribal communities as well as representatives from community groups, government, higher education, K-12 schools, and local businesses.
Over the course of the event, participants discussed social, economic, and environmental considerations to ensure an equitable energy transition in our state. Discussions were facilitated by Lead Facilitator, Theresa Cardenas and Co-Lead Facilitator, Lilly Irvin-Vitela with support from additional facilitators, Krystal Curley, Leila Flores Duenas, Danielle Garcia, and Melissa Toledo Ontiveros. In the final hours of day two, nearly 80 people came together to craft a set of eleven recommendations to inform New Mexico's energy transition with an emphasis on equity.
We've included the finalized recommendations below along with photos from the event.
Ask the NM State Legislature to fund a statewide working group to write legislation to incorporate equity within utility rate design for all energy utilities, including co-ops. Working group members should include industry partners, community groups, economists, national and state technical, environmental, and legal experts.
Ask the NM State Legislature to create and fund the Energy Data Act to be administered by NM EMNRD, addressing use, demand, source, level of need, resilience, energy burden, etc., in order to make energy data available and easy to analyze for all interested parties–regulators, Tribes/Pueblos/Nations in state-level work groups, local government and special districts, researchers, businesses, and community-based organizations.
Ask the NM State Legislature to extend the Community Energy Efficiency Development Block Grant Act by $10M a year for the next decade in order to begin to address the needs of limited-income homes and encourage energy efficiency business development.
Create a task force that includes state agencies, federal agencies, NGOs, local governments, Tribal Nations, and community members to establish communication channels, relationships, and trust to advance sovereign renewable energy development through partnerships and collaboration.
Direct state, federal and private foundations to provide more adaptable and equitable grant funding opportunities for Tribal Nations to fund financial and technical assistance, home-grown grant writers, and reporting assistance.
Create state and federal laws around Free Prior, and Informed Consent (FPIC) to include strict enforcement and penalties and make mandatory for city, council, state, and federal governments.
Pilot regional resilience/learning hubs in local government or Tribal entity in rural/frontier communities with funding for equipment, operations, outreach, broadband access, paid learning opportunities, promotion of entrepreneurship and wrap-around supports (community college, industry, labor, K-12).
Add pre-K-12 renewable energy literacy and project-based learning as part of the state educational standards to support workforce development.
Appropriate $7M for the NM Association of Councils of Government for local capacity building for renewable energy planning, implementation, and coordination with the Rural Ombuds Program.
Ask the NM State Legislature to develop a NM Center for Energy Equity that prioritizes community engagement, public awareness, and resource dissemination. The Center will support seven regional offices to ensure local priorities are identified and addressed.
Ask the NM State Legislature to provide paid professional development incentives and STEAM support materials on energy efficiency and sustainability to public K-12 educators and administrators.