Santa Fe — The New Mexico Senate Memorial 63 Community Solar Working Group recently released its report to move forward with community solar enabling legislation in the 2021 legislative session. The report includes a summary of a months long collaborative process to engage and educate stakeholders on community solar, and the positions of all parties. The findings will be used by state legislators to draft community solar legislation that includes input from all stakeholders for the 2021 session.

“All New Mexicans deserve to benefit from the renewable energy transition and have access to the solar savings. Community solar can help,” said Mayane Barudin, Interior West Manager and Tribal Liaison for Vote Solar. “The Working Group educated all stakeholders of the benefits of community solar and allowed all parties to genuinely learn, engage, and collaborate. We are now one step closer to all New Mexicans, especially tribal communities and low-income customers, realizing the full benefits of solar energy.” 

Community solar refers to small, local solar facilities shared by multiple community subscribers who receive credit on their electricity bill for their share of the power produced, saving them money. 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 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 Working Group was formed by the state Senate during the 2020 session via Senate Memorial 63 that requested, “the New Mexico Legislative Council to arrange for a third-party facilitator to convene a working group to review statewide community solar initiatives and develop recommendations for the implementation of those initiatives.”

“The Working Group was able to successfully bring together a diverse group of stakeholders to collaborate and align on how to bring community solar to life in New Mexico,” said Kevin Cray, Mountain West Regional Director for Coalition for Community Solar Access. “This was an important milestone that fulfills policymakers’ request, and now it’s time we bring this legislation across the finish line to bring economic relief to the hard working people of New Mexico. Community solar will provide the economic stimulus that New Mexicans desperately need right now while also expanding the benefits of renewable energy to all cities, tribes and pueblos, households and businesses across the state.”

The Working Group was composed of representatives from the Energy, Minerals and Natural Resources Department (EMNRD); the Public Regulation Commission (PRC); the State Land Office; utility companies; rural electric cooperatives; renewable energy industry representatives; environmental organizations; Indian nations, tribes and pueblos; low-income service providers; local governments, cities, counties; and interested community members from throughout the state. 

An electronic version of the community solar working group report can be found here