Vote Solar releases new job and economic development estimates for community solar

Santa Fe, NM -- New research shows that allowing community solar in New Mexico would create hundreds of jobs and nearly a quarter billion dollars in local economic investment, according to Vote Solar, a national solar advocacy group. In her State of the State address, Governor Michelle Lujan Grisham touted New Mexico’s growing economy, environmental leadership, and her plans to continue to make New Mexico a great place for business, a trend that could be bolstered by community solar. 

The Community Solar Act [SB 143], pre-filed by Senator Liz Stefanics (D-39) and Representative Patricia Roybal Caballero (D-13), would allow community solar in New Mexico, spurring the development of 200 megawatts of community solar over the next three years that would serve approximately 11,700 customers and: 

  • Increase solar jobs in New Mexico by 34% 
  • Create 728 sustained full-time jobs during the near-term construction period
  • Generate $115.5 million in earnings for those employed across the solar supply chain
  • Create $240 million in local economic benefits for the state, not including local tax revenues

“Community solar makes solar energy an accessible, affordable option for renters, muti-family dwellings and people with shaded or unsuitable roofs, while eliminating the financial burden of rooftop solar,” said Mayane Barudin, Interior West Manager at Vote Solar and tribal member of Santo Domingo Pueblo. “New Mexicans, especially those who feel excluded by the renewable energy transition, can benefit tremendously. Community solar creates local, good-paying jobs and economic development all while advancing us towards the clean energy future we need.”

Community solar removes the economic barriers that historically and currently prevent New Mexicans from investing in and benefiting from solar energy. Currently, rooftop solar is limited to households or businesses who are building owners and can afford a solar array and who have a suitable roof. With community solar, participants can buy, lease or subscribe to a share of an off-site solar array and receive a proportional credit on the electricity bill.

19 states and Washington, D.C. have enacted policies that enable community solar arrangements between subscribing organizations and participating subscribers. Community solar has grown from just a handful of projects installed before 2010 to powering approximately 150,000 homes by the end of 2018. The Smart Electric Power Association (SEPA) estimates there will be two gigawatts of community solar installed nationwide by 2021.

A community solar bill was introduced in the Roundhouse in 2019, but failed to pass. Details to follow on this year’s version.   

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