The Village of Questa, New Mexico is aiming to become a regional clean energy hub with robust and diverse employment opportunities for the local community supported by the energy sector and by other businesses inspired or attracted by abundant clean energy, outdoor recreation, and cultural opportunities. A coalition of stakeholders in the Village of Questa, comprising the Village, Kit Carson Electric Cooperative (KCEC), Questa Economic Development Fund, and Chevron, is exploring options to develop hydrogen production facilities as an opportunity to create jobs, provide reliable clean energy, and utilize former mine resources. Questa is home to a molybdenum mine owned by Chevron that closed in 2014. Several residents in Questa and surrounding communities lost their jobs when the mine closed and transitioned from active operations into environmental remediation. Although remediation efforts have been ongoing since 2014 and are expected to continue for at least 16 more years, the number of jobs with Chevron is much smaller now than it was before the closure. Between available workforce, brownfield land, and water rights formerly supporting mine operations but now in a transition period, there are considerable local resources that could be directed toward clean energy generation. Questa's electricity supply is already 100% solar during daylight hours thanks to Kit Carson Electric Cooperative's (KCEC's) strategic decision-making and partnering over the last decade. Now, Questa, KCEC, and Chevron are exploring the potential costs and benefits of siting an electrolytic hydrogen production facility and additional solar photovoltaic (PV) capacity in Questa to further advance the region's clean energy economy. In this report, we estimated the potential economic impacts (i.e., jobs, value added, gross output, tax revenue) of constructing and operating a combined hydrogen (32 MW polymer electrolyte membrane electrolizer + 7.5 MW fuel cell) and solar facility (22.5 MW) in the Village of Questa, as well as the resulting economic spillovers to Taos County and the state of New Mexico. We employ an input-output model that leverages IMPLAN's economic data for the region complemented by construction and operating expenses estimated by NREL and feedback from the local coalition to evaluate the direct, indirect and induced effects of the project construction (transient impacts) and operation (more permanent impacts). Based on the area's average trade profile, feedback from the coalition and current market conditions, these projects are expected to support 487 full-time equivalent jobs during construction, generating $24 million in income for those workers and $82 million in local economic activity in the state. Of those jobs, 106 are expected to be construction sector jobs. These investments are also estimated to add $36.5 million to New Mexico's gross state product (GSP). In the Village of Questa, we estimate 16 jobs will be supported in construction and transportation industries, generating $0.9 million in earnings. In Taos County, the construction phase is expected to support 285 jobs primarily in construction and professional services, while manufacturing jobs dominate the results for the Rest of New Mexico. The Village is also estimated to receive $0.9 million in tax revenue from the construction phase alone. Once in operation, the project continues to impact the state and Questa. Around 20 jobs (full-time equivalent for each year of operation) are supported across New Mexico, with approximately 11 directly employed in Questa by both facilities. The total annual local economic activity supported by ongoing operations is just over $1.3 million/yr, generating $1.6 million/yr in additional income in the state. Annual operations are estimated to add $2.1 million to the state's GSP. The Village is expected to receive around $43,000/yr in tax revenue. Impacts vary significantly depending on which businesses are supplying materials, equipment and services, and where construction workers reside. Choosing local suppliers will most benefit Questa and the New Mexico economy, adding up to 500 jobs during construction and 13 long-term jobs. Local and state governments may consider ways to incentivize local businesses in order to maximize economic benefits.
Original languageAmerican English
Number of pages57
StatePublished - 2024

NREL Publication Number

  • NREL/TP-6A20-88933

Other Report Number

  • DOE/GO-102024-6271


  • economic impact analysis
  • hydrogen
  • input-output
  • jobs
  • New Mexico
  • Questa
  • solar photovoltaic


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