New Mexico, despite ranking third in the nation for solar energy potential, currently has just 3.9 percent of the state’s power coming from the sun when that could be one of the cheapest sources available.
The governor committed to addressing climate change by signing on to the U.S. Climate Alliance, a coalition of state leaders reducing their carbon emissions to targets set in the Paris Agreement. She issued an executive order directing every state department to curb greenhouse gases.
New Mexico Renewable Energy bills roundup
Lawmakers have introduced numerous ideas and options for increasing the state’s use of renewable energy. In addition to SB 489, the broad Energy Transition Act, here’s a list of other bills, some which include provisions that would be covered should that act be adopted.
HB 15 / SB 275 The renewable portfolio standard increase without the additional measures for compensating PNM for decommissioning the San Juan Generating Station or job training and economic development in that region.
HB 210 / SB 281 Community Solar Act allows groups to cooperatively own a photovoltaic installation.
HB 221 Home energy efficiency income tax credit incentivizes using remodeling projects as a time to improve energy efficiency in a home.
HB 289 Requires no less than 1 percent of severance tax permanent fund be invested in renewable energy.
HB 498 Abandoned Utility Facilities and Funds mandates a utility that abandons a qualifying generating facility to provide replacement resources in the school district where that abandoned facility is located—an effort to recoup the lost tax base for San Juan County and its schools with the shuttering of the San Juan Generating Station.
SB 39 / SB 518 Solar Market Development Income Tax Credit of up to $6,000 for installing solar thermal or photovoltaic systems on residences, businesses and agricultural enterprises. A 10 percent tax credit for consumers and small businesses that install solar has been, by some accounts, the most progressive legislation to gain traction in eight years. In 2015 and 2018, legislators approved extending tax credits for installing solar panels, and both years, the bills were pocket vetoed by then-Gov. Susana Martinez. Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham is a supporter.
SB 51 Increases renewable energy for state facilities. Transitioning just the 25 state-owned buildings in Santa Fe to renewable power could save $25 million in energy costs over 20 years.
SB 136 Efficient Use of Energy Act is the one thing everyone seems to agree on (representatives from El Paso Electric, PNM, the state Energy, Minerals and Natural Resources Department, Sierra Club, Conservation Voters New Mexico and 350.org have all spoken in support), because the cleanest kilowatt is the one never used.
SB 161 Appropriation for Renewable Energy Transmission Authority, would direct $350,000 to establishing electricity transmission lines in- and out-of-state, increasing the state’s opportunities to make solar power an export crop. The program has been “effectively starved out of existence,” Sen. Joseph Cervantes said in a committee meeting. The allocation would pay for three full-time salaries.
SB 374 Local Choice Energy Act allows municipalities, counties and tribes to take their own bids for electricity.
SB 393 Next Gen Carbon Emission Pricing Plan imposes a surtax on gasoline and natural gas to distribute to a low-income home energy assistance fund and displaced fossil fuel worker fund.
SB 456 Electric Utility Resource Procurement requires a competitive and transparent bidding process for investor-owned utilities.
SB 489 The Energy Transition Act increases the renewable portfolio standard to 50 percent by 2030, 80 percent by 2040 and 100 percent carbon-free by 2045, with funding to transition the San Juan Generating Station’s workforce to new jobs and uses a securitization to pay for closing the coal plant.