Commentary: A bill that would require the State to utilize more solar power and renewable energy on its 750 buildings, as long as it would provide a net savings on utility costs and not require any upfront costs, passed the House with strong bipartisan support, and now goes to Governor Martinez for signature. Senator Jeff Steinborn (D- 36-Dona Ana), the sponsor of SB 227, said the move is a huge win-win opportunity for the state of New Mexico. The bill was passed by the Senate earlier in the session.
“I’m thrilled that the Legislature has passed this common sense legislation with strong bipartisan support. I encourage Governor Martinez to sign this cost saving measure into law so we can began to save serious money on our utility bills and create good jobs in the process. This legislation will help make New Mexico a solar leader in the country and send a great message about the Land of Enchantment,” said Sen. Steinborn.
Several cities in New Mexico have recently expanded the use of solar power on government facilities including Las Cruces, Albuquerque, and Santa Fe. Other states have also increased the use of solar power.
“The state of New Mexico owns over 750 buildings and currently only has solar power on two of them,” said Sen. Steinborn.
SB 227 would enable the State to take advantage of modern solar power financing techniques called ‘power purchase agreements.’ Through the agreements, a private solar provider invests all of the upfront costs involved in setting up a solar system, and in return collects a portion of the utility bill for a set period of time. The State government would pay no up-front costs, and save on its reduced energy costs over time.
Local solar providers applauded the passage of SB 227 through the Senate. “The solar industry is excited and ready to work with the state to provide cost effective solar energy,” said Karen Paramanandam, marketing director for SunPower by Positive Energy Solar.
According to the Solar Foundation, the solar industry employs more than 2,900 people in New Mexico.
Representative Nathan Small of Las Cruces praised the legislation, stating “the solar industry is a bright spot in New Mexico. We should do everything we can to support an industry that is creating good, local jobs across the state.”
“Putting solar panels on state government buildings is a win for New Mexico: it will help reduce air and water pollution, save the state a lot of money in electricity costs every year, and create jobs right here in New Mexico,” said Sanders Moore, director of Environment New Mexico. “We applaud Sen. Steinborn and Rep. Small for taking the lead to move New Mexico forward with renewable electricity.”