Community solar clears first hurdle in New Mexico

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Community solar may will be on its way to one of the nation’s sunniest states, as earlier this week the New Mexico House of Representatives passed HB 210, also known as the Community Solar Act.

The bill, which will allow for the establishment of the state’s first community solar program, was approved 42-25 and lays out some standard guidelines for an acceptable community solar program.

Specifically, no community solar facility over 10 MW in capacity will be permitted, with further language barring two different projects from being on the same parcel of land if their combined capacity is greater than 10 MW.

As well, no single subscriber will be able to have a 60% or greater stake in a single project. Speaking of 60%, the bill also clarifies that no more than 60% of subscribers to a single project may be over 25 kW in their subscription capacity, which seems to be an effort to fully open community solar to residents, as only commercial/industrial and some government subscribers would be using more than 25 kW in capacity. The minimum capacity for subscription is 1 kW.

Oh, and if you thought you’d get through this article without hearing about energy storage, today is not your lucky day. HB 210 allows for the partnering of energy storage systems with any proposed community solar projects, though it does not go any further into outlining capacity or siting guidelines.

This is just another step in the march toward community solar world generation domination greater national distribution of community solar programs.  If the bill passes, New Mexico will become the 21st state to explicitly authorize community solar. Not to be forgotten, but also not a state, Washington, D.C. also allows community solar.

Just like New Jersey’s first community solar program, HB 210 has specific cutouts for the inclusion of low-income subscribers. The bill outlines mandatory reservations for low-income customers, to be converted to an overall capacity reservation target after the program has operated for two years.

While HB 210 still has to get through the New Mexico Senate, New Mexico has passed the critical first step on the road to become the 21st community solar state.