UPDATED: the Community Solar Act passed the Senate Tax, Business and Transportation Committee, after a do-pass recommendation from the Senate Conservation Committee, and will go to the Senate floor next!
After years of preparation and effort, community solar may well become a reality in NM with legislation now making its way through committee in the 2021 Legislative Session. Community solar is local, shared solar that allows anyone with an electric bill to save with solar through a subscription. This includes renters, home-owners, businesses, schools, nonprofits and Tribal Nations and community members. Community solar is a proven model for generating and distributing clean, affordable energy that is already enacted in 20 states and the District of Columbia.
Community solar also allows those who wish to install solar at their homes but are not able (due to roof structure, access to finance or credit) to participate in the economic and environmental benefits. Community solar can give more Tribal members a stake in the renewable economy by advocating for energy policies and programs specifically designed to address the barriers faced by environmental justice communities, communities of color, and others on the frontlines.
A Tribal Community Solar Task Force gave input to the Working Group recommendations that formed the basis for the legislation. All language regarding Native Community Solar Projects has been reviewed by the Tribal Task Force for its support of tribal interests and alignment with All Pueblo Council of Governors Resolution 2020-06 “Support for Community Solar Legislation That Benefits Pueblo Nations.”
A report released by the University of New Mexico, “The Potential Economic Impact of Community Solar in New Mexico”, found that full rollout of community solar could support 3,760 total jobs and generate over $517 million in short-term economic impact.
Make Your Voice Heard!
Senate Bill 84 (companion House Bill 106), which would bring community solar to New Mexico, comes before the Senate Conservation Committee at 9am on Thursday, January 28, 2021, for its first (virtual) hearing. Advocates for the bill can speak in support via the online platform (practice your one-minute speech in advance). The hearing will be available through Zoom. Click on www.nmlegis.gov and toward the top of the screen click on “Webcast” right at 9am on the 28th. The technique for the public to offer comments is to click on the “Raise Hand” button at the bottom of the Zoom screen.
You can also call the members of the Senate Conservation Committee and ask them to support the Community Solar Act (SB 84) when they vote this week. Public comment for Senate Conservation can be submitted by email to SCONC@nmlegis.gov. Advocates should also contact their district representatives (courtesy of SOLution New Mexico) to make your support known.
“Strong community solar policy will advance the goals of Tribal Nations in pursuing energy sovereignty by encouraging investment and reducing financial energy burden,” according to Mayane Barudin, Regional Manager & Tribal Liaison for Vote Solar, and tribal member of Kewa Pueblo.
For More Information
New Energy Economy offers links to fact sheets, the text of SB84, and the Working Group report on its website page.