By Elisa Lucero

Ah, spring in New Mexico. The sun is shining, and, like clockwork, the wind is blowing. This is precisely what places New Mexico in the perfect position to lead the nation when it comes to clean, renewable energy sources like wind and solar. A number of visionary leaders, institutions and community members worked together to place Española and Rio Arriba County at the heart of this next energy revolution. Together, we are working to bring power to the people as nearly 250 people joined us to watch approximately 55 youth perform Earth Day themed performances on Friday evening in the Fine Arts Theater.

We registered about 150 people who attended the Saturday event, which included keynote addresses by Luis Reyes from Kit Carson Electric Co-op, and Chris Miller from Guzman Energy Partners, who reinforced the need for transitioning to clean energy and why we are in an ideal position to follow that path. Then a few of the educational seminars included Do it Yourself Solar, Electric Cars which included a Chevrolet Volt and a Tesla on display, and 100% Clean Renewable Electricity for NM.

Audience members learn more about renewable energy at Northern New Mexico College

An exhibition of booths, with hands-on demonstrations by local vendors, included a couple of solar powered water fountains, fresh cookies baked in a solar oven and other innovative displays created by students from Northern New Mexico College. The whole event was free and open to the public.

Our future needs to be tied to clean renewable energy and we must be at the forefront in training workers to install and maintain renewable energy infrastructure, encourage homeowners to invest in their own solar installations and energy efficiency measures and encourage our electricity providers to invest in renewable energy right here in our community to provide good, quality jobs with decent wages.

That is why I have been working with the support of Conservation Voters New Mexico Education Fund CVNM Education Fund) to be a part of Renewable Energy Action – bringing together concerned citizens and leaders within our community to work together to bring more renewable energy to the Rio Grande Valley. Working together, Renewable Energy Action created the first Renewable Energy Festival last year for Earth Day, and this year’s event was a great success. We are already making plans for the third annual event to happen in 2019, which will be even bigger and better!

Festival organizers address the crowd

On behalf of the other event co-hosts and planning committee members, including Northern New Mexico College (NNMC), Moving Arts Española, Jemez Mountains Electric Cooperative and Rio Arriba County, we would like to thank the following community partners and donors: NNMC Facilities, Cafe and Security Staff; LANL Community Partnerships Office, CVNM Education Fund, Performance Maintenance Inc., Glen Sparks, Lovin’ Oven, Rio Arriba Health and Human Services Dept., Laura Cox, Mara Taub, Teresa Garcia, Buffalo Thunder Casino, Santa Claran Casino, La Cocina, Espanola Community Co-op, Dixon Community Co-op, Zia Credit Union, St. John’s United Methodist Bag ‘n Hand Food Pantry, Ram Krishan Khalsa and members of the Sikh community, The Water Store, and Dorothy Montoya, and to all the Student Ambassadors who helped guide our presenters and participants around the event.

We’re so excited to see so many New Mexicans demonstrate an interest in learning more about renewable energy here in Rio Arriba County, what they can do to help and how they can get more involved in making our community a true leader in capturing the amazing renewing resources of the Land of Enchantment, our true abundance, wind and sun. Our Mother Earth needs our help now!

Elisa Lucero is on the Renewable Energy Action committee and is working with Conservation Voters New Mexico Education Fund’s Northern New Mexico organizing initiative.