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Center for Energy Policy Announces Conference in January, Sept. 23, 2008

by Thomas Guengerich

SOCORRO, N.M., Sept. 23, 2008 – The New Mexico Center for Energy Policy has announced that it will hold its second conference – this one examining renewable and low-carbon footprint energy issues – in early January in Hobbs.

“New Mexico is an important energy producing state,” said Van Romero, Vice President of Research and Economic Development at New Mexico Tech. “By bringing together decisions makers and industry leaders, the Center for Energy Policy will help frame a national discussion about our future. We will provide leadership and expertise in solving the riddle that is the global outlook on energy.”

Sen. Jeff Bingaman has been invited to be the featured speaker at the event, which will also address policy issues regarding electricity transmission. Sen. Pete Domenici was the keynote speaker at the Center’s inaugural conference in May.

The Center, which is operated by New Mexico Tech in Socorro, was launched in 2007, thanks to a $250,000 appropriation sponsored by State Sen. Carroll Leavell of Lea County. Based in Hobbs, the Center aims to provide a forum for discussion and a clearinghouse for information about global and national energy issues, concerns and policies.

Center Director Dr. Fred Yarger said New Mexico can take a lead national role in developing a clear energy policy. Much of the United States’ energy crisis is related to failures in policy, he said.

The conference includes panel discussions with recommendations that are forwarded to state legislative leadership and congressional delegation to help them craft policies based on sound science and innovative thinking, Yarger said.

For instance, producers of renewable energy are encountering difficulties incorporating their electricity into existing power grids. Those problems are directly related to outdated policies that do not include a structure for merging energy from new sources with energy from coal-fired power plants, he said.

Another issue is bringing wind power into the existing power grid, Yarger said. New wind farms in east-central New Mexico, for example, tie into a substation at Tucumcari that does not have the sufficient capacity. This is an example of the policy and engineering issues that must be addressed nationwide for the energy industry, he said.

“It’s difficult for the solar and wind energy producers to locate where they can easily attach to the grid,” Yarger said. “Part of the coming conference will address infrastructure and transmission capabilities.”

The January conference will open dialog about these and many other issues with decision-makers from industry, regulatory agencies, academia and research institutions.

– NMT –