New Mexico became the 21st state to adopt community solar when SB 84 was enacted in 2021. At the time of passage, it was agreed that projects would be capped at 5 MW and the program would expand access to community solar to disadvantaged communities, with a carve out of at least 30% of capacity per project dedicated to low-income customers and service organizations.
“Community solar is the solution for clean energy equity that New Mexicans have been waiting for,” said Beth Beloff, executive director of the Coalition of Sustainable Communities New Mexico. “Expanding access to renewable energy while also cutting costs, especially for our low-income households, is going to improve lives from pueblos to cities. We’re glad the PRC will be implementing this important program on a timeline that delivers the money-saving benefits of community solar at a time when people need it most.”
Enacting these rules will help modernize and decarbonize New Mexico’s electrical grid and provide savings for ratepayers, it will also generate significant investment in the state that will lead to well-paying jobs. 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 PRC has done an excellent job with this rulemaking process for our new community solar program, and we appreciate their willingness to accept input and adjust the program accordingly,” said Senator Liz Stefanics (NM-39), the prime sponsor of the Community Solar Act which enabled a community solar program. “A key element of community solar is the opportunity it provides to bring access to solar and the clean energy economy to anyone who wants to participate, especially low-income households. These rules will ensure that these New Mexicans will have an equal chance to benefit from the implementation of this important program in the state.”
Through community solar, customers can enjoy equal access to the benefits of solar generation by subscribing to small local solar arrays and supporting local solar development. They then receive a credit on their utility bill for their share of the power that is produced, just as if the panels were on their own roof.
“I’d like to commend the PRC for all of their diligent work. The final rule that was adopted will ensure that this program delivers the maximum cost savings, job creation, and equity benefits for New Mexicans,” said Kevin Cray, Mountain West regional director for CCSA.
Read more about SB 84 here.
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