New Mexico becomes 21st state to enable community solar
Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham signs the Community Solar Act into law
Santa Fe, NM – Today, Governor Michelle Lujan Grisham signed Senate Bill 84 into law making New Mexico the 21st state to pass community solar legislation. The bill passed in the House of Representatives earlier this month by a vote of 44-3 and in the Senate by a vote of 25-12. It was sponsored by Senator Elizabeth “Liz” Stefanics (D- Bernalillo, Lincoln, San Miguel, Santa Fe, Torrance, Valencia) and Senator Linda M. Lopez (D-Bernalillo) on the Senate side and Representative Patricia Roybal Caballero (D-Bernalillo) and Andrea Romero (D-Santa Fe) on the House side.
The new law authorizes community solar projects, which refer to small, local solar facilities shared by multiple community subscribers who receive credit on their electricity bills for their share of the power produced. Community solar makes solar savings more accessible by eliminating the primary barriers to rooftop solar, like upfront costs, owning your home or office building, or having a suitable roof. The law requires 30% of each community solar facility to serve low income households. The projects are often co-located on local farms or underutilized land, providing significant opportunities for New Mexico farmers and landowners to generate additional monthly revenue by leasing portions of their land to community solar developers.
The Community Solar Act was a result of many years of consensus building and provides an important complement to the Governor’s Energy Transition Act by expanding clean energy access and bill savings to disenfranchised communities previously left out of the clean energy revolution, making New Mexico’s energy transition more equitable and just. According to a study by the University of New Mexico, the bill has the potential to create thousands of jobs and hundreds of millions of dollars in economic benefits across the state.
Members of the SOLution New Mexico coalition, made up of solar, climate, Native and community organizations supporting the Act provided the below statements celebrating today’s signature by the Governor:
“We would like to thank Governor Grisham for signing the Community Solar Act and for her continued leadership in making New Mexico a renewable energy leader,” said Kevin Cray, Mountain West Regional Director for Coalition for Community Solar Access. “This bill will ensure all New Mexicans can benefit from solar energy and will expand New Mexico’s economy with clean, locally produced community solar. We look forward to working with the Public Regulation Commission to develop program rules so we can get a program up and running by early next year.”
“Governor Lujan Grisham’s signing of the Community Solar Act is another step down the renewable energy path laid out by the groundbreaking Energy Transition Act in 2019,” said Ben Shelton, Political and Policy Director for Conservation Voters New Mexico. “Community Solar will bring equitable access to the solar market and provide badly needed economic stimulus to businesses, local governments and the state. Along with other legislation waiting for the Governor’s signature, Community Solar will further a just transition for New Mexico’s renewable energy economy.”
“We are grateful to our Governor and to the groundswell of advocates and supporters for this major step in providing communities with more renewable energy choices, affordable energy, and equitable access to solar power for all. This bill will create a competitive marketplace to innovate and deliver the best solar energy solutions to our cities, counties, and all New Mexicans,” said Beth Beloff, Executive Director of the Coalition of Sustainable Communities New Mexico.
“The renewable energy transition in NM needs to benefit all New Mexicans, particularly Tribal communities who are continuously impacted by past and present environmental justice issues or negative health disparities,” said Ahtza Chavez, Executive Director of NAVA Education Project. “We are grateful for Governor Lujan Ghrisham’s support of the Community Solar Act so Tribal Nations can continue to serve as leaders in the clean energy transition and empower our communities with the socioeconomic benefits of solar development.”
“Tribal governments and Native people have consistently recognized the critical role of renewable energy in mitigating climate change to preserve the health of our crucial ecosystems and cultural practices,” said Mayane Barudin, Regional Director and Tribal Liaison of Vote Solar and a Tribal member of Kewa (Santo Domingo) Pueblo. “Governor Lujan Grisham’s support of the Community Solar Act compliments her dedication to a just energy transition that benefits all New Mexicans, particularly Tribal Nations and Native communities.”