Renewable energy struggles to compete with oil and gas in Carlsbad

J. Weston Phippen

Nick King, a member of Citizens Caring for the Future's leadership team, stands in front of Carlsbad's Hopi Substation, a ten megawatt solar array that feeds power to the electric grid.

CARLSBAD, N.M. — The blue van turned onto the pitted road, and for miles the tallest objects on the horizon were the brush and yucca. Soon, signs appeared with arrows that pointed to dirt trails with curious names like “Illinois Camp Booster.” Suddenly, what looked like a hidden city appeared and the landscape was filled with warehouses, tall cylindrical gas storage tanks and, as far as the eye could see, rusted, bobbing oil pump jacks. 

Inside the van were three members of Citizens Caring for the Future (CCFF), practically the lone organized resistance to the oil and gas industry in Southeastern New Mexico. They were an odd bunch. At the wheel was Nick King, a Mennonite pastor and owner of a small solar company. Behind him was Joan Brown, a Catholic Franciscan nun with a grandmother’s delicate voice. And aiming a camera out the passenger window was Nathalie Eddy, a field organizer with Earthworks, a national environmental nonprofit, who’d driven from Colorado for the day’s excursion.