We have lost a huge opportunity to create hundreds more jobs: solar workers for change! For vibrant local communities to thrive! Sadly Local Choice Energy was tabled in Senate Tax, Business and Transportation this morning.
We know that Local Choice energy (aka community choice aggregation) is an idea whose time has come. The monopoly utility model is based on old technology and undermines energy resilience, democratic values and progress towards a net-zero carbon economy. Our bill this year had 18 sign-on organizations and was supported by resolutions from the City of Las Cruces, the Mayor of Santa Fe, the County of Santa Fe and the All Pueblo Council of Governors. The bill passed through Senate Conservation with all Democrats voting to pass, and after multiple delays, received a thorough hearing in Senate Tax, Business and Transportation. It was unfortunately defeated with the help of two Democratic Senators, Senator Padilla and Senator Hickey, who were swayed by for-profit utility and rural co-op fear mongering about reliability and price increases for rural customers.
The reality is that the opposition to Local Choice Energy comes solely from business interests who oppose any weakening of their monopoly stranglehold on energy profits in New Mexico. Local Choice energy will provide communities in our state with a choice about who supplies their power, the kind of power they want to rely on, the capacity to stabilize rates and reduce costs for low income community members, and the option to meet or exceed the Renewable Portfolio Standard at a faster rate than monopoly utility companies.
Local Choice energy is a proven concept. In nine states that have adopted community choice aggregation prices are lower, progress towards clean energy standards has accelerated and municipal energy providers have proven themselves more reliable than privately owned utilities. (So, it is particularly ironic that the utilities were using scare tactics about “unreliability” and threatening that high costs and even death, like what happened in Texas, would occur if local choice energy providers led in NM; the actual evidence, however, is just the opposite. Municipalities and tribes are more responsive, and have other priorities, like safety, security, and efficiency because they are not-for-profit entities.) We partnered with LEAN Energy US (Local Energy Aggregation Network) and they stand ready to provide expertise to New Mexico communities that are eager to adopt community choice aggregation. We plan to continue to build on the progress made thus far to give them that option.