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New Mexico State University

New Mexico State University

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Richardson touts alternative energy program, praises New Mexico State University

Democratic gubernatorial candidate and former national Energy Secretary Bill Richardson cited the need for alternative energy development in New Mexico and praised the economic development efforts of New Mexico State University during a visit to the campus Wednesday.

o points I'd like to emphasize are that we need to develop alternative energy in New Mexico, and that New Mexico State University is a catalyst for economic development in southern New Mexico and the state needs to realize that," he said.

Richardson announced a five-point plan to make New Mexico a leader in alternative energy production at a meeting in the Southwest Region Experiment Station, the site of photovoltaic research by New Mexico State's Southwest Technology Development Institute.

"I propose to use the resources of New Mexico -- its sun, its wind and, of course, its creative people -- to produce a renewable energy industry that will lead the nation. At the same time, we must keep investing in technologies to enhance our recovery of oil, gas and coal," he said.

The five points in Richardson's alternative energy plan are:

- Set a goal that New Mexico will generate 10 percent of its energy through renewable sources by 2010. The plan would include the use of income tax credits and Industrial Revenue Bonds for building renewable energy power plants.

- Make New Mexico one of the nation's top three states in the production of wind energy. Richardson said he supports federal and state tax credits now in place to encourage wind energy utilities. He said he would encourage PNM to move forward with a 200 megawatt project it is considering in southeast New Mexico.

- Encourage private businesses to generate their own power, which they could sell back to utilities through the use of net-metering. He said he would expand the size of solar or wind systems allowed under state law from 10 kilowatts to 100 kilowatts.

- Put solar systems in schools and state buildings. Richardson will propose installing one kilowatt solar systems in 10 schools a year, require teaching about renewable energy in schools, and put a solar energy system in the New Mexico governor's mansion, he said.

- Encourage the use of alternative fuels, such as natural gas, in vehicles.

Richardson added that he would encourage building alternative energy plants along the New Mexico-Mexico border through the use of border tax credits.

Noting that the Southwest Technology Development Institute currently is funded by a combination of federal and private sources, Richardson said he would like to see it also receive state support, either through direct funding or tax credits.

Pointing out that the institute has been working on alternative energy sources since the early 1970s, institute director Rudi Schoenmackers said, "We have the technical and scientific expertise. All we need is the funding."

New Mexico State's Vice President for Facilities Benjamin E. Woods, who attended the meeting, said he welcomed Richardson's focus on alternative energy development.

"We're still not at the point where the technology develops on its own. It requires leadership," he said.

Richardson met with College of Business Administration and Economics Dean Danny Arnold, management assistant professor Samuel Gray and the college's major gifts officer, Jill Belcher. They discussed an entrepreneurship class conducted by Gray and a proposal to develop a business incubator in southern New Mexico. He visited and spoke to accounting professor Richard Oliver's "Introduction to Management Information Systems" class.

"We appreciated the Secretary's interest in and knowledge about instruction technology in the classroom," said Regent's Chief of Staff Juan N. Franco. "He said one of his goals is that every seventh grader in New Mexico will own and be competent with a laptop computer."

Richardson also spoke to about 240 middle- and high-school students attending the National Hispanic Institute's Lorenzo De Zavala Youth Legislative Session in New Mexico State's Corbett Center Auditorium.

"Be a part of the political process. Know issues, register to vote, be citizens and be active. Run for office -- women, too," he said, noting that the young women in the audience had been slower to raise their hands when he asked who planned to be leaders in their communities.

Jack King
July 3, 2002