REIA and the 2019 legislative session
HB210, Community Solar Act: This bill was promoted as a way to make solar more accessible to New Mexicans. However, REIA had concerns about the lack of a cap for these types of installations, prioritization that these projects would have in the utility interconnection ques, potential for projects (up to 10 MW) to clog up feeder lines and lack of any local preference. REIA did engage with the bill sponsors and supporters to have these concerns addressed to no avail. The bill stalled at the end of the session and did not pass. This bill will probably be back and we have engaged with some of the people behind the bill in the hope of changing it to one that REIA can support.
HB291, Efficient Use of Energy Act Amendments: This bill directs Investor Owned Utilities (IOU) to implement energy efficiency programs for customers. The bill also directs the Public Regulation Commission (PRC) to adopt a rate adjustment mechanism that “decouples” utility revenues and sales. Decoupling is an initiative that REIA has invested significant resouces (mainly legal fees) in recent years and therefore found this component of the bill very appealing. It is the belief of REIA that decoupling will make Distributed Generation (DG) solar less threating to utilities and therefore make our industry more stable.
SB518, Solar Market Development Tax Credit: REIA supported this bill in its original form which allocated $10 million per year with-out a sunset clause. During the session, the bill was amended to a $5 million per year allocation with a 10 year sunset. It was felt by the REIA board that the reduction in allocation would not be sufficient to adequately fund the market and could be disruptive to business. Subsequently, REIA withdrew is support for this bill. Ultimately, although the bill passed through all of the necessary committees, it did not get a vote on the house floor on the last day of the session.
SB51, Renewable Energy Services for State Facilities: Currently only 2 of state of NM buildings have solar. This bill would have directed the state to analyze all buildings and put renewable energy systems (think solar) on those buildings that could realize cost savings. Seemed like a no-brainer. This bill did not make it out of the Senate Conservation Committee.
SB489, Energy Transition Act: this high profile bill increases the Renewable Portfolio Standard (RPS) to 50% by 2030 and 80% by 2040 and 100% carbon free energy by 2045 for IOUs. There are slightly lower thresholds for electrical coops. The bill also provides economic development funding in the area of the San Juan generating station that is planned to be fully shutdown by 2023. Additionally, it enables PNM to sell low-interest bonds, to re-coup the remaining principle of its investment in the San Juan generating station. While this bill may not directly benefit residential and commercial solar, the thought was to be good solar citizens and support the bill. This bill passed and was signed by the governor.