Relying on oil, coal and natural gas for the bulk of our energy needs is ultimately a losing proposition. Fossil fuels will peak and run out someday. In the meantime, they’re becoming increasingly less efficient and more environmentally harmful to extract. Burning them perpetuates so many problems (water, soil and air contamination, habitat destruction, oil spills, to name a few) that it’s clear that we need to diversify our sources of energy as soon as possible.
In addition, our reliance on fossil fuels is driving changes in our climate that are already having devastating effects on New Mexico — clearly visible in the severe drought and catastrophic wildfires we have been experiencing over the last several years.
Fortunately, New Mexico boasts a wealth of clean, renewable sources of energy such as solar, wind, biofuels, geothermal sources and more. We have the ability and resources to make clean energy a driving force of our economy and cost-effective for energy consumers.
New Mexico is taking the first steps toward the “power shift” by calling for major investments in clean energy like wind and solar in the Energy Transition Act, passed by the legislature and signed by Governor Lujan Grisham in March 2019. The law calls for our energy to be carbon-free by 2045, one of the strongest standards in the country. The creation of clean energy jobs — guiding the economy towards environmentally friendly, zero- and low-emission technologies while creating jobs in a down economy — is supported by New Mexicans across the political spectrum.
Clean energy jobs are appropriate and promising for individuals across New Mexico’s workforce — ranging from entry-level to advanced, highly technical positions. Despite the variation in education and skill requirements, clean energy jobs pay more than average ($22.05 in 2009, compared to $18.93 for all other occupations). And while specific numbers vary by study, clean energy jobs in New Mexico are projected to grow faster than others, which is great news in these troubling economic times.
Related Votes for Energy & Climate Change
- Air Quality
- Energy &
- Wildlife & Habitat
Resource Sustainability and Security Act more
Summary: HB 28 would have created a sustainability and resilience council that would have developed a government wide plan to (a) ensure the long-term sustainability and resilience of New Mexico and its infrastructure and resources; (b) prepare the state for climate change; (c) reduce the vulnerability of natural and built systems, economic sectors, natural resources and communities to risk; (d) promote long-term water and energy resource security; and (e) support state economic development and diversification. The council would have provided guidance to state agencies and worked with stakeholders in creating agency plans and accomplishing the goals of the plan.
Outcome: HB 28 passed the House 40-23 and passed the Senate Conservation Committee, but died in the Senate Finance Committee.
Melanie A. Stansbury
Community Solar Act more
Summary: HB 210 (and its companion SB 281) established rules for community solar facilities and specifically reserved a portion of shares for low-income customers. The bills would have allowed renters, low-income utility customers and persons without suitable locations for solar generation on their premises to participate in local solar generation facilities by allowing subscription in community solar generation. This would have stimulated the growth of the solar industry and expanded the number of New Mexicans who have access to solar energy.
Outcome: HB 210 passed the House 42-25 and passed the Senate Conservation Committee, but died on the calendar of the Senate Judiciary Committee. SB 281 died in the Senate Conservation Committee (never heard).
Patricia Roybal Caballero
Fund Investment in Renewable Energy more
Summary: HB 289 provided that no less than one percent of the market value of the severance tax permanent fund be invested in New Mexico renewable energy.
Outcome: HB 289 passed the House 43-19 and passed the Senate Conservation Committee, but died on the Senate Finance Committee calendar.
Sheryl Williams Stapleton
Efficient Use of Energy Act Changes more
Summary: HB 291 establishes thresholds for energy efficiency programs which, at minimum, save 5% of energy costs to customers. The bill also provides for the removal of regulatory disincentives to energy efficiency programs.
Outcome: HB 291 passed the House 58-7 and passed the Senate 27-13. The bill was signed by the Governor on April 3, 2019.
Oil, Gas and Vented Gas Royalties more
Summary: HB 398 (and its companion SB 500) established a threshold over which oil and gas production is taxed at one fourth percent. The bill also established that vented and flared gas was subject to royalties.
Outcome: HB 398 was tabled and died in the House Commerce and Economic Development Committee. SB 500 received a do pass in the Senate Conservation Committee, but the committee report was not filed and the bill was not referred to the Senate Corporations and Transportation Committee.
Derrick J. Lente
Solar Energy Improvement Assessments more
Summary: HB 440 provides that a customer may voluntarily request a solar energy improvement special assessment be applied to their property in order to access the benefits of solar technology. The bill provides that these assessments may be applied on residential or commercial property within the boundaries of an incorporated municipality in a county if the municipality adopts a resolution approving the application of the county’s ordinance.
Outcome: HB 440 passed the House 35-28 and passed the Senate 31-8. The bill was signed by the Governor on March 28, 2019.
Joseph L. Sanchez
Debra M. Sariñana
PRC Application for Vehicle Electricity more
Summary: HB 521 requires public utilities to file applications to expand transportation electrification, i.e., charging facilities for electric vehicles. HB 521 makes rules for the approval of these applications, including the facilities' ability to meet clean air standards and inclusion of low-income people and communities.
Outcome: HB 521 passed the House 45-17 and passed the Senate 22-12. The bill was signed by the Governor on April 3, 2019.
Workforce Clean Energy Economy Study more
Summary: HB 547 would have required the Workforce Solutions Department to study the opportunities for and barriers to transitioning to a clean energy economy and produce a report on findings. The bill would have required that the department study this in low-income and rural communities and work with stakeholders in undertaking the study. The study and report would have addressed (1) solar, wind, solar thermal energy generation and other renewable energy resource generation; (2) expanding contracting for local small businesses in disadvantaged communities; (3) low-income individuals and communities accessing energy efficiency and weatherization programs, with special consideration given to disadvantaged communities; (4) low-income individuals and communities accessing zero emission transportation options, with special consideration given to disadvantaged communities; and (5) participation in outdoor recreation and public lands preservation.
Outcome: HB 547 was tabled and died in the House Appropriations and Finance Committee.
Renewable Energy Services - State Facilities more
Summary: SB 51 would have required the General Services Department to use rules, issue requests for proposals and acquire, where appropriate, renewable energy sources for state facilities. This would have increased renewable energy use in the state which would have reduced pollution and saved on operating expenses.
Outcome: SB 51 died in the Senate Conservation Committee; a motion to do pass failed.
Electric Utility Resource Procurement more
Summary: SB 456 specified rules for procurement of sources of electricity generation. It specified that sources may be independently owned. It also required an independent evaluator to monitor the procurement process in the case of a new source of electricity.
Outcome: SB 456 died in the Senate Corporations and Transportation Committee on a do pass motion that failed.
Energy Transition Act more
Summary: SB 489 sets a statewide renewable energy standard of 50% by 2030 for New Mexico investor-owned utilities and rural electric cooperatives and a goal of 80% by 2040 that investor-owned utilities must meet, subject to cost and reliability considerations. In addition, the bill sets zero-carbon resources standards for investor-owned utilities by 2045 and rural electric cooperatives by 2050. The bill establishes a pathway for an energy transition in the Four Corners area while providing relief to workers in San Juan County affected by the closure of coal units. The bill provides for training for these workers and uses low-interest bonds to finance economic relief for communities dealing with closures and directs that replacement power, including renewables, be developed in San Juan County as a means of restoring the community’s tax base.
Outcome: SB 489 passed the Senate 32-9 and passed the House 43-22. The bill was signed by the Governor on March 22, 2019.
Jacob R. Candelaria
Brian F. Egolf
Patricia Roybal Caballero
Nathan P. Small
Climate Change Compliance Tax Credits more
Summary: SB 499 would have allowed a taxpayer who is subject to the Severance Tax Act, Oil and Gas Severance Tax Act, Oil and Gas Conservation Tax Act, Oil and Gas Emergency School Tax Act, Natural Gas Processors Tax Act or Oil and Gas Ad Valorem Production Tax to take a tax credit for costs incurred to comply with executive order 2019-003, which addressed climate change and ordered that the state will take measures to support the 2015 Paris Agreement Goals.
Outcome: SB 499 died on the Senate Corporations and Transportation Committee calendar.
William E. Sharer
Oil, Gas, and Vented Gas Royalties more
Summary: SB 500 (and its companion HB 398) established a threshold over which oil and gas production is taxed at one fourth percent. The bill also established that vented and flared gas was subject to royalties.
Outcome: SB 500 received a do pass in the Senate Conservation Committee, but the committee report was not filed and the bill was not referred to the Senate Corporations and Transportation Committee. HB 398 was tabled and died in the House Commerce and Economic Development Committee.
Bill B. O'Neill
New Solar Market Development Tax Credit more
Summary: SB 518 allowed a taxpayer a tax credit for installing a solar photovoltaic or thermal system. This bill allowed a 10% credit up to $6,000 with a five year carry forward and established an aggregate cap of $10 million per year and was sunset in 2029.
Outcome: SB 518 passed the Senate 29-12 and passed the House Taxation and Revenue Committee, but died on the House Calendar.
Know the Score > Take Action
Strategies for Energy & Climate Change
Actions that promote clean energy and tackle climate change:
New Mexico is one of the national leaders in driving the clean energy economy by adopting renewable energy standards — requiring utilities to generate a percentage of their electricity from renewable sources, like solar and wind. The standards were increased this year to 50% by 2030 and 100% carbon-free by 2045. Since the adoption of a clean energy standard, our state’s clean energy industry has boomed, providing growing numbers of clean energy jobs that pay well.
Actions that hurt clean energy and exacerbate climate change:
No thank you!
In November 2011, Gov. Martinez’s Environmental Improvement Board (EIB) — a board whose members are significantly aligned with polluting industries — began hearings to dismantle rules that would reduce New Mexico’s carbon pollution. Adopted after dozens of hours of public comment, expert testimony, and cross-examination, these rules aimed to create new clean energy jobs and combat climate change. In December 2011, the board voted to overturn the state’s participation in a regional cap-and-trade program; and in March 2012, it proceeded to also overturn the state’s carbon cap rule.
Efficiency is by far the most effective energy policy there is to save money, generate jobs, reduce our dependence on foreign oil, and alleviate the environmental and health impacts of fossil fuel industries. The less energy we use, the fewer negative impacts we suffer, plain and simple. In 2009, New Mexico adopted a new energy-efficient building code that would have saved consumers money on utility bills, while spurring job creation in the energy efficiency sector and combating climate change. In June 2011, however, the Construction Industries Commission (CIC) reversed course and dismantled the energy conservation code, providing no explanation for their actions. This decision hurt New Mexico consumers and workers. More details on what happened can be found in the Albuquerque Journal.
New Mexico Green Jobs Report: 2011, NM Dept. of Workforce Solutions
Communicate with the Governor and your Legislators
Whether you’re congratulating them on their score or expressing your disappointment, be direct, courteous and polite.
The most important part is letting them know that you are paying close attention to how they vote or, in the case of the Governor, what actions she takes on legislation that affects our air, land, and water.
Calling your legislator directly and sending letters through regular mail remain by far the most effective ways to communicate with your legislators.
The Governor and Lieutenant Governor can always be contacted at the State Capitol. Except during the legislative session, state legislators should be contacted in their home districts, as listed on the current Legislators page.