The Bill Now Heads to the Governor’s Desk Where it’s Expected to be Signed into Law
Santa Fe, NM – Senate Bill 84, enabling legislation to bring community solar to New Mexico, passed the state legislature today and is now headed to Governor Michelle Lujan Grisham. The bill would authorize 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. A recent study conducted by the University of New Mexico Bureau of Business & Economic Research (BBER) found that community solar could generate hundreds of million in economic benefits and support thousands of high-quality jobs over the coming years.
The bill passed in the House of Representatives yesterday by a vote of 44-3 and today the Senate concurred 25-12. SB84 was originally drafted after a months-long stakeholder process that engaged 90 total participants with representatives from state, local and tribal governments, utilities, NGOs, solar industry, and citizens. The goal of the working group was to engage and educate all stakeholders on community solar, gather the positions of all parties, and craft a bill that best meets the needs of all New Mexicans and the electric grid.
Momentum behind the bill’s passage picked up steam after the bill’s sponsors and investor-owned utilities came to the table to discuss amendments that reduced the program size, limited some commercial subscribers, and included more consumer protections. This compromise is an extension of the consensus-based process of the community solar bill and gives the Governor and other legislators what they have requested for years.
Members of the SOLution New Mexico coalition, made up of solar, climate, Native and community organizations supporting the bill provided the below statements celebrating this victory:
“The legislature has reviewed this bill for several years now, and I’m happy to see this on its way to the Governor’s desk,” said Ben Shelton, Political & Policy Director for Conservation Voters New Mexico. “New Mexicans have spoken clearly for years that this legislation is something that they want to see done. Hopefully this bill will be signed soon so that the PRC can get to work developing a program that starts making change on the ground right away.”
“Passing both chambers is an historic step forward for New Mexico,” said Mayane Barudin, Interior West Director & Tribal Liaison at Vote Solar. “With today’s vote, New Mexicans are one step closer to energy equity and reliable bill savings. This will especially help to level the playing field for Tribal Nations and community members to achieve energy sovereignty as we fight for a just energy transition.”
“This is an important day for New Mexico’s energy transition and a great day for the thousands of organizations, cities and towns, Tribes and Pueblos and average citizens across the state who support community solar,” said Kevin Cray, Mountain West Regional Director for Coalition for Community Solar Access. “Last year the Governor told us to send her a consensus bill and that’s exactly what we’re doing. With one stroke of the pen we can finally democratize New Mexico’s energy sector and bring access to clean, affordable solar energy to hard-working people across the state.”
“This legislation makes solar more affordable and accessible to all New Mexicans. It took a lot of years of work from Rep. Roybal-Caballero, Sen. Stafanics and others to build a consensus and pass both chambers. It’s good to see this broadly popular concept get to the governor’s desk,” said Camilla Feibelman, Sierra Club Rio Grande Chapter director.