New Mexico enacts solar energy expansion, grid modernization laws

Published on March 05, 2020 by Chris Galford

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A group of bills dedicated to expanding capacity for solar energy and modernizing New Mexico’s electric grid were signed into law this week by Gov. Lujan Grisham.

For Grisham, these bills were a part of tackling climate change, which she put front and center in her decision.

“Climate change is a monumental challenge that requires innovative solutions,” Grisham said. “Thanks to the leadership of these bill sponsors and the support of the Legislature, we have additional tools to meet this crisis head-on. By making solar power more accessible to New Mexicans, addressing our electric grid, and establishing tools to help expand the transmission infrastructure, we are ensuring that New Mexico is on the right track – and creating more jobs, reducing emissions and saving New Mexicans money on their electric bills.”

The laws began as House Bills 50 and 233, as well as Senate Bill 29. SB 29 restarts a 10 percent solar system tax credit that expired in 2016. That will provide for up to a $6,000 capped incentive toward any individual or business interested and, supporters hope, will go a long way to restoring the solar jobs the previous expiration sent running.

“Reinstating the solar tax credit has been a priority of mine since it expired in 2016, and I’m grateful that Gov. Lujan Grisham made it one of her priorities for this 30-day session,” state Sen. Mimi Stewart, co-sponsor of SB 29, said. “The time is right to get it back into place. The credit will help more New Mexico families and small businesses invest in solar and will boost our statewide effort to move toward the goal of having a 50 percent renewable portfolio standard by 2030. It will also help cut pollution, save customers money, and create jobs in the clean-energy economy.”

HB 50 seeks to improve renewable energy infrastructure by laying its foundations: making transmission line projects eligible for Industrial Revenue Bonds in cities and municipalities. HB 233 — also known as the Energy Grid Modernization Roadmap — directs the Energy, Minerals and Natural Resources Department to create a strategic plan for energy grid modernization and a competitive grant program to support the implementation of eligible grid modernization projects. Utilities will be encouraged to present proposals for a more reliable electricity grid, and a new grid modernization grant fund will bolster these efforts.