New Mexico sets out to be solar state

ALBUQUERQUE, NEW MEXICO - New Mexico, known for decades as the "Land of Enchantment," could be moving toward another slogan; the land of green power.

Because of the state's natural abundance of wind and sun, politicos and private developers are working toward turning the southwest desert state into one that supplies green energy.

Advent Solar Inc. and Schott made news in 2007 and 2008 when they opened shop in and near Albuquerque. A recent article from the New Mexico Independent reported that Schott Solar is trying to put itself in the position of New Mexico's flagship solar company. Though the same article pointed out that Advent has laid off a little more than half of its entire workforce, the state continues pushing ahead in its attempts to appeal to more green energy related companies.

"New Mexico has wonderful sun, wind and geothermal potential.

We have a ready market here," comments Brendan Miller, green economy manager with the New Mexico Economic Development Department. "We're expecting to be a leader in renewable and solar energies."

With that in mind, Sandia National Laboratories boasts its Science and Technology Park is also attempting to attract similar businesses. EMCOREwest, an offshoot of Somerset, NJ-headquartered EMCORE, is one of the first businesses in this park, and has as a goal renewable energy.

Meanwhile, developer Forest City Covington NM LLC has set aside an area dubbed Innovation Park in its 13,000-acre, master-planned, green-oriented Mesa del Sol to lure renewable energy management companies to Albuquerque's doorstep. Schott and Advent are already in operation on the site. Jason Lott, director of leasing and economic development at Mesa del Sol says he's current working on four more active deals for the site.

Lott explains that the 200-acre Innovation Park is deliberately oversized to help create more jobs than what might be needed by Mesa del Sol's residents. Furthermore, the reason why Mesa del Sol is able to build a large Innovation Park is because of New Mexico's government and its dedication to renewable energy. "Overall, New Mexico is dedicated to attracting the green companies," Lott tells "Our political leaders walk the talk; and have some great incentives in place."

Lott goes on to say that a further benefit of Innovation Park is its direct access to Sandia's labs. In other words, companies taking space at Innovation park will be within a stone's throw of the solar research spearheaded by Sandia. "There's the technological brain trust right next door," Lott remarks. "They'll be neighbors."

Miller tells that aside from the millions in incentives that the government is throwing out, the workforce is actively trained in methods and processes pertaining to renewable energies. Another feather in New Mexico's cap involves green grid solutions, he adds.

"We're actively going after federal 'smart grid' money," Miller says. If the applications are accepted, they'll pave the way toward development of demonstration projects involving distribution of green power. "Communities such as Mesa del Sol are applicants for these funds," Miller says. "This shows the parks are green, not only in branding, but in building infrastructure for the green grids."


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