HOBBS, N.M., Feb. 27, 2009 – U.S. Sen. Jeff Bingaman will be the keynote speaker at a New Mexico Center for Energy Policy conference on Tuesday, April 14, at the Lea County Event Center in Hobbs.

New Mexico Tech President Dr. Daniel H. Lopez and state Sen. Carroll Leavell of Hobbs announced the conference earlier this week in Santa Fe. Lopez said the conference is an important national event that will highlight renewable energy in the current economic climate. The conference also will draw attention to the initiatives of Sen. Bingaman to sustain investment in clean energy technologies.

Sen. Bingaman is the chairman of the Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee. First elected to the Senate in 1982, he is serving his fifth term. He is responsible for the first national tax credit for clean energy manufacturing as part of the proposed federal stimulus legislation enacted by President Obama last week.

“We are excited that Senator Bingaman has agreed to deliver the keynote address and discuss the latest energy initiatives,” President Lopez said. “He has been a leader in crafting energy policy for many years and, with his leadership in Washington, D.C., this country has a thoughtful and balanced policymaker.”

The conference will include discussions on renewable and clean energy, along with technology innovations in a new, low-carbon era, coupled with the current low energy prices.

Dr. Van Romero, Tech Vice President of Research, will serve as the conference emcee. Sen. Bingaman will deliver the keynote address at a noon luncheon.

“New Mexico has always been key to ensuring our nation’s energy needs. As we develop a national energy plan that continues to shift us away from imported oil to homegrown fuels and renewable energy, I am confident that New Mexico will remain an energy leader,” Bingaman said. “I look forward to participating in this important conference.”

The conference will feature several sessions that focus on renewable energy policy and technology, including solar, wind, biomass and geothermal. Other renewable energy topics will include the automobile technology, electricity transmission and the grid, clean energy, carbon cap and trade proposals, federal regulation, climate change and renewable energy in a changing economy.

The daylong conference will feature experts from the energy research centers and industries presenting their cornerstone papers and opinions about renewable energy in America and the response to current stress that influences the marketplace. Each presentation will be followed by commentary from experts in the field.

State law requires New Mexico’s major utilities to produce 15 percent of their power from renewable resources by 2015 and 20 percent by 2020, Romero said. However, national and state decision-makers haven’t established the regulatory and administrative policies needed to integrate renewable energy into existing infrastructure systems.

“Any electricity we generate in eastern New Mexico from renewable energy like wind can’t be taken to market,” Romero said. “The Texas compact won’t allow us to put that electricity on the grid. So, we need to look at changing our policies to get that energy to market.”

This conference will be the second event hosted by the New Mexico Center for Energy Policy, since being established by New Mexico Tech in 2006. The inaugural conference in May 2008 featured now-retired Sen. Pete Domenici as the keynote speaker. Nearly 400 people attended the event.

The Center for Energy Policy, in partnership with New Mexico Junior College and the Economic Development Corporation of Lea County provides energy-related research, technical and educational assistance for government, community, and business leaders in New Mexico and West Texas.

New Mexico Tech is a state-funded four-year research university in Socorro that is the leading educator of scientists and engineers.

– NMT –