A bill aimed at creating guidelines for a statewide community solar program is making its way through the New Mexico legislature, having passed a Senate vote on Mar. 4.
The bill, SB 84 would call on state regulators to evaluate existing community solar programs and develop rules for a state program to be adopted by April 2022. The bill sets its own rules for regulators to use to form the program:
- Projects are capped at 5 MW in capacity
- The program initially will be capped at 100 MW statewide
- Each project must have an “anchor tenant,” defined as a customer that would subscribe to no more than 40% of a project’s capacity
- Each project needs at least 10 subscribers before construction can begin
- The program must have a mandatory 30% capacity carve-out reserved for low-income customers and low-income service organizations.
The provisions for minimum subscriber counts and an anchor tenant would offer some certainty of a financial return to project developers.
The bill also calls on regulators to develop a list of low-income service organizations and programs that may pre-qualify low-income customers. This feature has been identified by Vote Solar’s Access & Equity Advisory Committee as a way to ensure successful and equitable solar expansion programs.
In February, the University of New Mexico Bureau of Business and Economic Research released a report that found that a single 5 MW community solar facility could create up to 38 jobs, $1.47 million in labor income, and $5.17 million in output.
If signed into law, the bill could also help chip away at New Mexico’s renewable portfolio standard, which is currently set at 50% by 2030, 80% by 2040, and 100% by 2045. Solar and wind generation currently make up more than 30% of the state’s electricity sales.
The bill passed the Senate by a 27-14 vote, with all votes against coming from Republican senators. It heads to the House next, which is controlled by Democrats, 44-25, with one independent.
This content is protected by copyright and may not be reused. If you want to cooperate with us and would like to reuse some of our content, please contact: email@example.com.