For Immediate Release

Albuquerque, N.M. – Today, the New Mexico House of Representatives failed to pass the Community Solar Gardens Act (HB 338, Roybal Caballero) on a 34-31 vote, which is the farthest the issue has progressed in the legislature. The bill would have enabled utility customers who are renters, who do not have suitable locations, or are prevented from installing roof-top solar for other reasons to have equal access to the benefits of self-generation. In addition, community solar gardens deliver the benefits of solar power at lower costs by aggregating customers into larger projects, which have economies of scale.

In direct response to the vote, Juntos Mother Organizer commented on her State Representative’s vote:

“I feel deceived because the voice of our Latina/o community wasn’t heard. We are talking about our children and a necessity for all of the community. I want to ask my Representative Ruiloba, ‘are you with or not with the community?’ We are prepared to continue advocating for clean air and healthy families,” said Martha Favela, Juntos: Our Air, Our Water Mother Organizer and Leader from the South Valley. Juntos is a program of Conservation Voters New Mexico Education fund in partnership with Chispa.

Juntos and CVNMEF support communities’ ability to choose their own energy sources at the most local level. Juntos’ community leaders want energy that fuels their homes and lives to have the least impacts on climate change and health. In a community survey of 500 Latino families in Albuquerque, 73% said it is very important that their utility generate electricity in ways that do not pollute our air or contribute to climate change.

“Most of the time, a utility company or the legislature is making energy decisions for our community,” says Christopher Ramirez, Juntos Director. “Policies like the Community Solar Gardens Act (would) provide(s) an opportunity for communities to be a part of how we power our homes and lives. We are misled to believe that the dirtiest energy is the cheapest option. In reality, we should have access to the renewable energy options that are affordable and healthy for our families.”

Low income communities of color pay more than their fair share for their family’s energy needs because energy costs are a higher percentage of their income. The Community Solar Gardens Act would have provided an opportunity for energy sovereignty by allowing neighbors to join together to crowd-source renewable energy.

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Contact: Liliana Castillo at 505-992-8683 or liliana@cvnm.org