ALAMOGORDO — New Mexico State University-Alamogordo is encouraging students to enter the field of renewable energy, offering a hands-on learning experience with state-of-the-art facilities.
“New Mexico probably has the most sun, other than Arizona and parts of California,” said Renewable Energy Instructor Clay Blevins. “As far as illumination from the sun, we have a lot of it. If you look at maps of the U.S., there’s an enormous amount of solar energy hitting this part of New Mexico. To me, every house in this town should have a solar system on their roof. If they did, I’m not saying you’d put the utility companies out of business, but we could make a big dent in it.”
In his own backyard, Blevins has a solar energy system and has a monthly electricity bill of about $7.
“It’s not very big, generates about 4,000 watts on a typical day,” Blevins said. “Talking about energy use, throughout the whole day it generates about 27,000 watt hours of energy. In my house, we probably only use 12,000 watt hours a day so the rest of the energy is going out on the grid.”
NMSU-A’s renewable energy program was started from the ground up in 2009.
“We didn’t have anything,” Blevins said. “I was going to junk yards and finding motors and generators, stuff to teach electrical power. The first thing we bought were three or four little solar modules and used those for teaching solar energy.”
According to NMSU-A’s website, the program has now grown into a gem with state-of-the-art equipment to give students a hands-on experience. When students complete the renewable energy program, they’re equipped to get jobs with companies that install solar energy systems and small wind systems.
“A lot of people are looking for a career change or these young people are coming out of the Air Force and they’ve got a little electrical skill from what they’ve done, but they’re wondering how they can make a living and do something interesting,” said Renewable Energy Instructor Bryan Preppernau.
According to the website, NMSU-A’s renewable energy program is unique to the state and provides a four-semester Associate of Applied Science Degree in Renewable Energy Systems Technology with courses in photovoltaic solar power, wind power generation, inspection and evaluation of building energy efficiency, energy auditing, OSHA regulations, and national renewable energy standards and licensing exams. NMSU-A also offers shorter certificate programs in photovoltaic power, all at low cost and a convenient schedule.
For more information, call NMSU-A at 439-3768 or visit the course catalog online.
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