International energy conference has NMSU roots

Janet Perez

Jim Peach, professor of economics at New Mexico State University, speaks at the Re-Energizing the Americas news conference in El Paso. (Submitted photo by Khushroo Ghadiali-IEE)

NMSU

New Mexico State University’s Re-Energize America energy conferences are the framework for a new multinational, multi-partner event called Re-Energize the Americas set to take place in October.

Plans for the fall conference were announced during a press conference on Friday in El Paso at the Paisano Green Community, a green public housing project currently under construction.

Re-Energize the Americas will be the first regional conference to position the Paso del Norte Region as a global leader in sustainable energy. The conference will take place Oct. 26-27 at the Judson F. Williams Convention Center, 1 Civic Center Plaza in El Paso.

Along with NMSU, the Re-Energize the Americas conference is organized by the El Paso-based economic development organization The Paso del Norte Group and the University of Texas at El Paso. At NMSU, Abbas Ghassemi, director of the Institute for Energy and the Environment, and James Peach of the Arrowhead Center and the department of economics, have been working to help organize the conference for several months.

For the last two years, NMSU’s Re-Energize America conference was aimed at actively engaging leaders in government, industry and academia about issues critical to America’s energy future. A series of events and opportunities for partnerships led to the original conference expanding in size and scope.

“Last spring we were planning to hold another Re-Energize America conference at NMSU,” Peach said before the press conference. “We then learned that The Paso del Norte Group was planning a conference focused on renewable energy at the same time, and that the Texas General Land Office was holding its Border Energy Forum in El Paso the same week. It seemed logical to combine our collective efforts and UTEP soon became an active participant.”

Peach added that next year’s conference would be an NMSU-UTEP event held in Las Cruces.

The mission of Re-Energize the Americas is to spur economic development of sustainable energy resources and activities within West Texas, Southern New Mexico and Northern Mexico, a region with 2.6 million people. Among other topics, the conference will address regional energy security needs for area Department of Defense facilities such as Fort Bliss and White Sands Missile Range. That concern rose to the forefront this summer when massive wildfires in Arizona and Northern New Mexico caused rolling blackouts throughout the region.

Along with discussions on federal and state policy issues that affect energy resources, the conference also will address renewable energy options, many of which are being studied at NMSU.

“One of the projects that has received a lot of attention lately is algal-bio fuels,” Peach said during the news conference.

“We have more than one active research project on that. And the really nice thing about it is that it stretches across colleges at NMSU. We have the engineering school, the agriculture school, the business college — we have a lot of people from a lot of different disciplines working on that. We have NMSU researchers involved in almost any type of energy that you can name from solar to nuclear.”

The Re-Energize conference also plans to offer practical information for budding entrepreneurs, so they can grow or start their own energy ventures. Organizers say the conference will bring together local, regional and national energy leaders from academia, industry and government.

Re-Energize the Americas will feature a welcome by the mayors of El Paso and Las Cruces, followed by a panel made up of NMSU President Barbara Couture, UTEP President Diana Natalicio and Universidad Autónoma de Ciudad Juárez President Felipe Fornelli Lafón.

“We want to make sure that we give a lot of credit to New Mexico State University for helping us kick start this,” said Britt Porter, a member of The Paso Del Norte Group and co-chair of the Re-Energize the Americas conference organizing committee. “They had an energy conference that was successful for two years. We went (to NMSU) and negotiated with them, asked them to join us and came back and asked the same of the University of Texas at El Paso. I can say I was very pleased with the vision both university presidents had in accepting the invitation and putting this on a fast track.”

The conference coincides with the 18th Annual Border Energy Forum (BEF), which will be held Oct. 27 and 28 at the same location. The two conferences will hold a joint session on Oct. 27. The BEF works to promote sensible use of energy throughout the American Southwest and Northern Mexico.

For more information or to register for the conference, log onto www.reenergizetheamericas.com.

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