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people making a difference...

Thankfully, we have many community leaders that have chosen to make a difference in energy efficiency and consequently, NM may be at the top of states leading the country on this issue. The constraints of space do not allow us to mention all the deserving people in this area.

Governor Bill RichardsonNM Governor Bill Richardson - Energy Summit - As Chairman of the Western Governors' Association, Governor Richardson hosted the North American Energy Summit held in Albuquerque in April 2004. During the Summit, Governor Richardson announced the creation of the Clean Energy Development Council to promote state policies that help create renewable energy development. To see the text of Governor Richardson's speech: Click Here (pdf). According to Governor Richardson, "The real action in renewables is happening at the state level".

See Governor Richardson’s 2005 Clean Energy Legislation - $4 Million Appropriation for Clean Energy Programs and Projects. Governor Richardson urged his colleagues in Western states to develop a project with the goal of developing at least 30,000 megawatts of clean energy in the West by 2015, and to increase the efficiency of energy use by 20% by 2020. California Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger joined with Governor Richardson in recommending the western clean energy policy proposals. The Governor also established the Climate Change Advisory Group to come up with ways New Mexico could reduce its greenhouse gas emissions to the Governor's standards within the next several years. Now the group has released its recommendations. soundKUNM Interview with Ron Curry...listen. Just recently, Richardson has announced new initiatives for NM to become energy-independent including emission regulations for new cars and trucks, tax incentives for energy-efficient homes, energy/water conservation friendly building codes, public school energy incentives, tax credits for bio diesel and higher standards for renewable energy in utility company portfolios.

Mayor Marty ChavezThe mayor of Albuquerque, Marty Chavez, is a founding member of the Mayors Climate Protection Agreement and vowed to reduce Greenhouse gas emissions 7% below 1990 levels by 2012. He is designated as a Visionary and one of the "cool" mayors in this group. For all that Marty is doing, read more on their site. Mayor Chavez also recently held a conference on "Sustainability: A Town Hall on Albuquerque's Energy Future". He is determined to "walk the talk" with city projects before asking the public to make major changes. The Mayor also strongly supported the recently passed increase in the $4M "set aside" for energy conservation and renewable energy city projects. Yeah Marty!

At a recent press conference to discuss the "set aside", he highlighted the Los Angeles landfillongoing efforts to "harvest" methane (a powerful greenhouse gas) from the Los Angeles land fill. Land fills naturally give off methane as a part of the breakdown process. At this land fill, about 17% of the gas is being converted to electricity by a micro turbine which then provides power for a groundwater remediation system and gas extraction system. The rest is burned off for now which minimizes its impact on global warming. Projects such as this are such a great example of the "win-win" city efforts - Cleans the air (greenhouse gases), protects our precious water supplies AND produces clean renewable energy to boot. The original 1% energy conservation "set aside" passed last year has already paid for itself in savings in ONE year! Future programs considered for the 3% set aside include solar installations on city facilities, a small wind farm, lighting upgrades and building automation, upgraded fuel stations (E85 & B20), engine block heaters to reduce idling time, and flex fuel vehicle acquisition. Marty has a new web site on green issues at www.albuquerquegreen.com.

Jeff Sterba, CEO of PNMJeff Sterba - Chairman, President and CEO of PNM Resources, the parent company of PNM, Texas-New Mexico Power, First Choice Power and Avistar. In addition to serving as vice chairman of EEI, he chairs the association’s CEO Climate Change Task Force. In his recent testimony before the Senate Energy Committee, Mr. Sterba reported that PNM's 2003 Board of Directors adopted the goal of reducing greenhouse gas emissions from their utility operations in New Mexico by 7 percent by 2009 through diversification into renewable energy sources. Also see PNM Sky Blue (sign up today) and their five year environmental goals.

PNM (yes, we are proud) and the Energy Coalition - "Ten major companies with operations across the economy — utilities, manufacturing, petroleum, chemicals and financial services — have banded together with leading environmental groups to call for a firm nationwide limit on carbon dioxide emissions that would lead to reductions of 10 to 30 percent over the next 15 years." See A Call for Action .pdf

Dede Feldman - NM State Senator - Senator Feldman has long been an Senator Dede Feldman advocate of energy conservation and the environment. She sponsored SB 269 which created the solar tax credit for solar electrical and thermal systems that works in conjunction with federal tax credits. Taken together, these two credits give consumers about 30% off the cost of typical residential solar systems—and lessen the “pay-back” period dramatically when combined with other recently enacted state incentives. See Cost Analysis for solar system. Senator Feldman also proposed the 2002 Alternative Fuels legislation which proposed that 75% of all state vehicles would use alternative fuels.

“New Mexico has long been known as the state with the most sunshine—now we’re putting it to good use,” said Senator Feldman. “This credit will benefit homeowners now struggling with high home heating bills. It will boost economic development and encourage more solar industry like Advent Solar, which will bring thousands of jobs to the state. And most importantly, it will reduce our dependence on foreign oil and help build a safer future for our children.” For more information on the new law go to www.legis.state.nm.us.

Isaac BentonIsaac Benton - City Councilor - Councilor Benton is a licensed New Mexico architect and also received his contractor’s license to design and build homes. In 1991, he began his own architecture practice that focuses on libraries, senior and community centers, schools, and housing, using sustainable design and public participation in the design process. He is also a LEED (Leaders in Energy and Environmental Design) certified designer and has served as President of American Institute of Architects (AIA) New Mexico. Councilor Benton recently proposed the increased 3% "set aside" for energy conservation and renewable energy city projects. The proposal passed 7-2 and those voting "yea" should also be commended.

Michael CadiganMartin Heinrick


Michael Cadigan (left) and Martin Heinrich (right) both are city councilors on the city water and transportation committees who have promoted sustainability solutions for the city of Albuquerque.

Alan Zelicoff, M.D. - Dr. Alan Zelicoff is an Albuquerque physicist and physician. HeDr. Alan Zelicoff has written an outstanding online book called, "Saving Energy without Derision" and many editorials that champion energy efficiency and solar technology. He has also lobbied PNM to increase their incentives for clean energy.

Dr. Zelicoff has long been interested in energy conservation and renewable energy systems and decided to stop talkin' and test out the economic and practical feasibility of residential solar energy given the ever decreasing prices (about 3% per year) in solar panels and the ever increasing concerns about the hazards of unbridled burning of fossil fuels. 

Not only have the Zelicoffs installed a PV grid-tied system on their home but Al has directly influenced 6 other families to install PV systems as well. The Zelicoffs have also reduced their household electrical/gas usage significantly by doing most of the energy tips discussed earlier (many of which came directly from Al). Their reduced energy use saves on average 95% of the CO2 emissions produced in the typical Albuquerque home. In addition, Mary drives a Prius and Al rides his bike or takes the bus for most trips, so together they only consume about 200 gallons of gas a YEAR (4000 lbs. of CO2) compared to the average of 1000 gallons (20,000 lbs of CO2), a savings of 80%. Too Wonderful...Talk about "walking the walk".

Edward Mazria - Ed has a successful architectural practice in Santa Fe, (Mazria RiskinEd Mazria Odems Inc.) and is an old veteran of the green design movement (he wrote the beloved Passive Solar Energy Book in the late 1970s, which has sold around 500,000 copies). During the last (few years) Mazria has studied the existing data and come to a startling conclusion: architects--together with the building industry--are responsible for just about half of America's energy consumption and half its greenhouse gas emissions, which are produced by burning coal, gasoline, and other fossil fuels.

Mazria has produced a traveling multimedia presentation and a sort of white paper entitled "It's the Architecture, Stupid!", parts of which were published earlier this year in Solar Today magazine, laying out his case in urgent, accessible prose. Src: Turning Down the Global Thermostat By Christopher Hawthorne. See also Interview with Ed Mazria...very good.

Marlene BrownMarlene Brown - An electrical engineer at Sandia Labs, Marlene Brown is also the current President of the New Mexico Solar Power Association (NMSEA). She loves teaching all-female classes how to install solar energy systems. Walking the walk, she was the very first customer to sign up for PNM's PV incentives by putting a grid tied system on her adobe house in the UNM area that was built in 1926.

Brown used recycled photovoltaic modules from another project and all work was done by her and her students as a class project. (We should also mention her 108 gallon rain catchment system.) Last but not least, Marlene has made two trips to Vietnam to teach and install solar generating systems through the Solar Electric Light Fund, a Washington D.C.-based nonprofit group that works to bring solar power to the developing world. Her work at Sandia Labs provides the opportunity to travel once a month to Navajo country to provide technical support for solar units in the rural community provided by NTUA.

Have a suggestion for person making a difference? Email us at: mysuggestions@sustainableabq