SANTA FE, N.M. – New Mexico legislators are considering a bill that would bring community solar development to the state and expand benefits to all residents – even renters, or households that have unsuitable roofs or lack financial resources for solar installations.
The Community Solar Act, co-sponsored by state Rep. Patricia Roybal Caballero, D-Bernalillo, would enable residents to “subscribe” to a local community solar project to save money on their energy bills. Caballero, who will be honored tonight for her environmental justice efforts by Conservation Voters New Mexico, said it’s time for a policy that allows all people access to solar power.
“That opens up and captures solar as a clean, renewable energy,” she said. “That makes it accessible to low- and moderate-income families that traditionally would not be able to afford solar panels because they don’t own their homes.”
The Community Solar Act, House Bill 210, was passed by the House Energy, Environment and Natural Resources Committee last week and is headed to the House Judiciary Committee. Currently, 19 states and the District of Columbia allow community solar programs similar to the one proposed for New Mexico.
Caballero was elected in 2012 from a district where air pollution is higher than average with its concentration of industrial sources. She said it’s more important than ever to defend New Mexico’s natural resources.
“We need to continue to be reminded that what we’re there for is to serve our communities,” she said, “and to respond to what our communities are telling us are critical issues.”
Conservation Voters New Mexico’s Luminaria Award is presented annually to recognize elected officials who promote long-term ecological and economic sustainability.
The text of HB 210 is online at nmlegis.gov.