Over the past year a group of community leaders has been exploring the feasibility of establishing a green hydrogen production plant in Questa. Together with experts in the field of clean energy production and research, an in-depth Feasibility Study has been drafted which is now ready for presentation to the community for review and input.
There are two opportunities to attend, hear about, and participate in the Feasibility Study discussion, the first is in Questa on Thursday, July 17 at 6 p.m. at the VFW Hall, the second is in Taos at the Taos Community Auditorium (TCA) on Saturday, July 19 at 10 a.m.
Questa was one of 22 cities awarded a grant from the U.S. Department of Energy to evaluate clean energies to reduce air pollution, increase energy resilience, lower utility costs, and provide long-term jobs and economic opportunities.
“In a collaborative partnership, our team of specialists and local authorities has worked hard to assess how this green hydrogen project could impact and benefit Questa and the surrounding communities,” said Lynn Skall, director of the Questa Economic Development Fund (QEDF).
The core work is being done by the National Renewable Energy Laboratory as part of the DOE’s Communities Local Energy Action Program (C-LEAP). Other key partners include Sandia National Labs, Los Alamos National Labs, the State of NM, Chevron, Kit Carson Electric Cooperative, the Village of Questa, and the QEDF.
Questa has what is needed for a green hydrogen plant: land, water, and existing clean energy sources. Chevron’s former mine tailings site near the Questa Business Park is being considered for the location of the plant.
Water is the essential ingredient in green hydrogen – an “electrolyzer” is used to split water molecules into oxygen and hydrogen, with only clean water vapor as the byproduct of its production and use. Christian Isely, former Chevron Public Affairs Advisor says, “Chevron will make land and water rights available.”
The Questa area is powered by 100% day-time solar energy, thanks to Kit Carson Electric Cooperative. Once produced, green hydrogen would be stored – and it could be transported – to serve the area’s nighttime energy needs. Mayor John Ortega says, “we’d probably be one of the first places in the country to be powered by 100 percent green energy.”
The Feasibility Study will open the door to significant funding from state and federal agencies – there are many incentives and investment tax credits for green hydrogen facilities. “We have engaged legislators, the Governor’s office, and our congressional delegation in this effort. The struggle is that we are a small community competing against several large communities,” said Ortega.
Ortega believes that a 100% green community will attract businesses to Questa that want to operate in a carbon-free environment and also appeal to visitors.
Benefits of establishing the green hydrogen plant in the Questa area:
• Increased jobs and hiring commitments during construction and plant operations
• Local workforce training programs and centers
• Increased tax revenue to improve public services
• Turning unused assets (former mine land) into long-term beneficial use
• Overall support of the local economy, environment, and quality of life
“It’s too early to say how many jobs this would create,” Ortega said, because “we don’t know the scale [of the facility].” He adds that he believes the green hydrogen project “could be really good for Questa.”
For more information, contact Lynn Skall, firstname.lastname@example.org or leave a message at (575) 586-2149.