More good news for the New Mexico solar industry. Already known for its solar-friendly policies, New Mexico has just taken it to the next level with Bill 489, also called the Energy Transition Act. On March 22nd, Governor Michelle Lujan-Grisham signed the bill which makes New Mexico’s renewable energy standards one of the strongest in the nation.
This legislation adds to the current state standards. Previously, it was mandated that 20% of the electricity produced in New Mexico come from renewable energy by 2020. Bill 489 ups that by a significant amount, requiring all major New Mexico utility companies to generate 100% of their energy from renewable sources by 2050. Utility companies must step up their game in a big way to meet milestone requirements that have been set. By 2030, they must generate 50% of their electricity from renewable energy sources. By 2040, it’s upped to 80%, and then 2050 to 100%. Investor-owned utilities and electric cooperatives must meet 50% renewable energy generation by 2030. Naturally, this is a massive win for the New Mexico solar industry.
In addition to increasing renewable energy requirements, the Energy Transition Act will also set up a system for financing the closing of Public Service Company of New Mexico’s (abbreviated as PNM) coal power plant. It will also extend assistance to coal workers who will be laid off. Job training programs will be created for renewable energy programs, including those in the New Mexico solar industry.
Governor Lujan-Grisham said at the signing of the bill that it shows “states in fact can respond to the climate change crisis.”
However, the bill does have its fair share of critics. One critic, Mariel Nanasi, said “It is unfortunate that, when we had such an opportunity to create a robust local clean energy economy for Pueblos and cities, this bill doubles down on corporate monopoly dominance and malfeasance. Further, SB 489 changes and weakens bedrock consumer protections by gutting PRC (New Mexico Public Regulation Commission) authority.”
Despite this, there was a large coalition of backers, including PNM, environmental groups, and labor unions. They showed that the support for this bill was widespread and that people wanted to know that their energy was coming from clean, renewable sources. With this legislation passing, the New Mexico solar industry will expand greatly, create new jobs, and make the state bright with solar power.