Why NM Legislators Should Vote for HB 9
Summary: Sponsored by Reps. Patricia Roybal Caballero, Brian Egolf, and Andrea Romero, HB 9 Community Solar Act HB 9 would establish a phased-in community solar program to facilitate the development and interconnection of community solar facilities. It would enable people who do not have the financial resources to install solar panels on their own homes to make use of New Mexico’s abundant solar power with a low-income assistance fund. Solar power generation facilities could be constructed and operated by subscriber organizations, which could be municipalities, pueblos, affordable housing providers, nonprofits, community-based organizations, or other entities. Subscribers to such community solar facilities would receive credit for the electrical energy that their subscription generates. The power generated by a community solar facility would be fed to the distribution system of a public utility (investor owned or rural cooperative) in whose territory the facility lies.
History: In the 2019 session, a similar bill, HB 210, introduced by Reps. Caballero and Andrea Romero, and Senator Stefanics passed the House, was weakened in Senate Conservation, and died in Senate Judiciary where it was never heard. There are a number of significant differences between the 2019 bill and HB 9:
- The maximum nameplate capacity of a community solar installation is reduced from 10 MW to 5 MW.
- HB 9 calls for a phase-in period of about three years, during which the scale of the program is limited and subject to evaluation before permanent implementation.
- HB 9 establishes a community solar assistance fund with an appropriation of $10 million for initial funding.
Why This Bill Is Good for NM
- Community solar brings the many benefits of solar power to people who cannot afford solar panels, like low-income homeowners or apartment dwellers.
- This bill would stimulate more New Mexicans to adopt solar energy and reduce our dependence on fossil fuel sources of power.
- Expanding solar power brings new jobs to our state for solar panel installers, electricians, and designers.
- Community solar facilities have economy of scale, sharing installation costs among subscribers.
- Community solar facilities are tied directly into the local distribution systems of the utility in whose area they reside, so that costs of transmission are reduced.
- Nineteen other states have community solar programs, including NY, MA, CT, RI, MD, CO, CA. Some of these have been operating for 10 years or more. There is no reason for New Mexico to lag so far behind.
- New Mexico is heavily reliant on energy production industries, but oil and gas are subject to boom-and-bust cycles, and burning those fuels is detrimental to the environment. Sources of renewable energy, and specifically solar power, are not economic-cycle-dependent.
New Energy Economy, Sierra Club, 350 New Mexico, Alliance for Local Economic Prosperity, Conservation Voters New Mexico