Community Solar is moving forward and we need to continue to push to demand that the version that passes is feasible and beneficial for New Mexican communities to pursue. Community solar has been a demand of our communities for over a decade. The vision that has driven this work by community activists, community groups, residents, local businesses, and government entities is of solar gardens proliferated across the state, providing clean, low-cost energy to neighborhoods, to non-profit groups, to places of worship, to farms, to local business groups, to municipalities, to Indigenous nations. The idea is that every person in the state who wants to ensure they have low-cost, stable electricity rates and who cares deeply about using sustainable energy can simply sign up as a subscriber to a local solar garden. The vision is that Community Solar will drive an accelerated energy transition to bring New Mexico in line with IPCC guidelines and that a robust community solar market will fuel local economic development and green jobs growth.
Community solar is needed as an alternative to the status quo. While PNM and the other utilities love to tout their compliance with the ETA - the harsh reality is that PNM’s portfolio TODAY is 86% fossil fuels and nuclear, with only 4% solar! Our elected officials - who represent New Mexicans who overwhelmingly want climate action and more renewables (84%) should be wholeheartedly embracing EVERY tool that fosters the transition to 100% RENEWABLES + STORAGE, local economic development from green energy, and energy price stabilization. Instead, it's been like pulling teeth and we've seen changes to the bill that reveal the undue influence of our utilities and industry on our legislators. It appears that our legislature and Governor are not capable of manifesting the principles and goals of our collective vision of community solar or implementing the best practices of the 19 states who have already done this. The current bill is severely compromised. There will be significant barriers to community solar deployment by independent producers.
Is the bill still worth supporting?
We've thought long and hard about it and concluded that YES, we need community solar now! Ironically, some of the provisions that were meant to provide assurances to the utilities in the year-long stakeholder working group process that yielded the original language (the review period, the temporary cap, required reporting on impact & limitations) - will now be important avenues for advocates, activists, and communities to challenge the structure and demand improvements. We will continue working to support solar developers to navigate the challenges and realize the vision of solar gardens proliferating across the state.