September 18, 2023

NM Energy Equity Town Hall

people holding up pieces of colored paper

The group voting on the final Town Hall recommendations at the end of the second day.

By Brittney Van Der Werff

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.


Read the full final Town Hall report here 


Read the Energy Equity white paper here




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.

woman standing at lecturn
NM EPSCoR Associate Director Selena Connealy welcoming attendees to the first day of the Town Hall.


Woman on stage talking at lecturn
Magdalena Avila, Transdisciplinary Research Center for Equity and Engagement.
panel discussion
Arcelia Isais-Gastelum talking on a panel addressing equity in the energy transition.
People laughing
Candid shot of the Rural Capacity Building & Workforce Development breakout group.




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.

Woman smiling at someone off camera
Facilitator Krystal Curley listening during the Energy Sovereignty & Self Determination breakout session.


Two women standing at lectern playing guitar and singing
Musicians Leila Flores Duenas and Carol Vigil of Las Flores Del Valle presenting the history of energy in New Mexico and looking to the future.
artist holding up his drawings
Navajo visual artist Shaun Beyale illustrated three images to capture a hopeful essence of the energy transition. All attendees received prints of his artwork.
Native American man wearing traditional dress and playing a flute
Peter Feather Redheart, a Lakota Flute and Storyteller, presented during the breaks.




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.

woman standing in front of a circle of people sitting at a table
Led Facilitator Theresa Cardenas working with the Regulations: NM Energy Transition Act, Community Solar, & Data breakout group.


Sign on a chair with people talking in the background
Energy Sovereignty & Self Determination breakout group discussing topics.
Woman writing on large paper on a table
Participants from the Rural Capacity Building & Workforce Development breakout group refining recommendations.
Two women standing by a large paper taking notes and holding up notes
Leila Flores Duenas facilitating the Public Education and Awareness & Technical Assistance to Communities breakout group with assistance from Ondine Frauenglass.




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.

two people holding up a large paper on stage
Co-Lead Facilitator Lilly Irvin-Vitela and a Town Hall attendee presenting draft recommendations to the group.


Man at lecturn talking
Bobby Jeffers, NREL Energy and Resilience Center speaking about federal energy policy and capacity building in the Inflation Reduction Act of 2022.
Man and woman discussing something
Members of the Regulations: NM Energy Transition Act, Community Solar, & Data breakout group.
woman talking at lectern on stage
Co-Lead Facilitator Lilly Irvin-Vitela explaining the democratic decision-making process before the final voting takes place.