The New Mexico Community Solar Act was signed into law in April 2021, by Governor Michelle Lujan Grisham and is scheduled for adoption in April of this year. A public session was held yesterday, and because the Commission extended the written reply comments deadline to January 21, 2022, the Public Regulation Commission (PRC) is still gathering formal comments and information.
While most comments were submitted to the commission in writing, two people appeared in person yesterday. Ona Porter was one of the people who spoke in favor of the Act. She is president and CEO of Prosperity Works, an Albuquerque-based nonprofit that has worked with community groups to get the word out about existing energy efficiency programs. She said most families her group works with have annual incomes of $25,000 or less and can’t benefit from tax rebates or wait to get reimbursed for any out-of-pocket expenses. She suggested that a fund be developed so people could subscribe to community solar at no cost. Additionally, Porter suggested that training low-income residents would enable them to enter the renewable energy workforce.
The PRC is the state agency overseeing this Rulemaking process to establish the procedures and requirements for Community Solar projects to begin. Those rules are due to be completed by April 1, 2022. At this time the PRC is gathering input and best practices from developers, utilities, community organizations and other technical experts in the field to develop these rules.
New Mexico has historically ranked among one of the poorest states in the nation, with its economy based on the service sector, mining, and oil production. A recent University of New Mexico study found that community solar can provide a major economic stimulus to New Mexico at a time when it is desperately needed. The study found that community solar will:
- Generate $517 million in economic benefits
- Create 3,760 high-quality jobs in various sectors over the next 5 years
- Generate over $2.9 million in tax revenues annually for the state that is funded by private companies without requiring increased taxes or state investment
The study also concluded that each county in New Mexico would benefit from $15 million in economic output and 117 new jobs over a 20-year period.
“The Community Solar Act rulemaking is important work that will make a difference for the people of New Mexico, and those involved should be proud of their efforts,” said Commissioner Joseph Maestas, whose office headed up the rulemaking process within the agency’s Community Solar Action Team. The framework developed by the Commission stipulates that 30% of electricity produced from each community solar facility must be reserved for low-income customers and low-income service organizations.
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