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February 2024

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Photo by Dylan R.N. Crabb Carl Nichols and the Volkswagen Beetle he is restoring with an electric engine.

Taos EV Expo Showcases Renewable Energy

Renewable Taos’ fifth Electric Vehicle Expo, held Saturday, Sept. 24, at the Taos Public Library showcased a variety of electric vehicles from its proud members, including Ford, Chevrolet, Kia, Hyundai, Volkswagen, and Tesla. PPC Solar also had an info booth at the expo for homeowners looking into solar energy.
“The single most important thing an individual can do to reduce their carbon footprint is convert to a non-petroleum car,” said Christy Pritchert, an organizer of the event. Anyone who owns an electric vehicle is invited to present it at this expo (upon registering with Renewable Taos in advance). Renewable Taos markets the expo to their 500-plus members.

One electric vehicle enthusiast, Carl Nichols, is restoring and converting an old Volkswagen beetle to an electric engine. When asked how difficult it is to convert older cars like his Bug to renewable energy, he replied that, “people have been doing Bugs since the ’70s so they’re probably one of the first and one of the simplest ones to convert, especially if you use a kit.”

“Do you think anyone can learn how to convert their car?” we asked. “If you’re a DIY, handyman kind of person, sure,” replied Nichols. “There’s training people can get all over the country now.”

Pretty much any car can be converted into an electric engine, Nichols noted. “People have been building hot rods forever, now we’ve discovered electric motors, so we’re getting electric hot rods.”

Later in the expo, presentations were given in the Taos Library conference room. Presenters included Carl Nichols on the emerging hobby of electric vehicle engines, Sean Black from Lucky Corridor LLC on large-scale energy projects in New Mexico, and Delilah Garcia from New Mexico’s North Central Regional Transit District (NCRTD) on the Blue Bus’ Electric Bus Project.

Lucky Corridor LLC, a subsidiary of Ameren Transmission Co. (which is a part of Ameren Corp.), is in the process of expanding electricity transmission lines across eastern New Mexico via two projects: the Vista Trail Project (65 miles) and the Mora Project (114 miles). These projects are expected to provide New Mexico with 1,700 megawatts of transmission capacity.

Lucky Corridor is currently surveying 65 miles miles between Taos County and Colfax County for potential routes for their new transmission line in their Vista Trail Project, more specifically between Taos and Springer. Meanwhile, the Mora Project is split into two parts: 66 miles for Mora-Arriba which includes a 115kv transmission line and 48 miles for Don Carlo-Mora which includes a 345kv transmission line. Start dates for construction on the Vista Trail Project have not been set. Start dates for construction on the Mora Project have been set in 2023.

New Mexico’s NCRTD through $9 million in federal funding is purchasing six new electric buses, three for Taos and three for Española, from a company called Proterra.

The Rebuilding American Infrastructure with Sustainability and Equity (RAISE) program from the United States Department of Transportation has provided more than $2.2 billion dollars to communities across the country with the goal of modernizing roads, bridges, ports, and transit systems. The RAISE program is the result of President Joe Biden’s Bipartisan Infrastructure Law signed into law last year.

NCRTD is currently testing its new 40-foot buses that utilize a 738kw battery. NCRTD is also looking into constructing a new 12,000 square-foot operations facility on 6 acres of land in Taos on Salazar Road.