New Mexico: Community Solar Act Passes Out of Senate Conservation Committee

Community solar is ready to work for New Mexico! Today the Community Solar Act SB84 passed out of a key committee in the New Mexico State Senate.

New Mexico has committed to a 100% clean energy future, but right now, most New Mexicans can’t go solar at home or at work. Only rooftop solar is widely available, leaving many out of the clean energy transition — including renters, families who can’t afford to invest in solar at home, and small businesses.

Without enabling legislation, Tribes and Pueblos face blocks on the pathway to energy sovereignty. Community solar can serve families of all income levels, Native American Tribes & Pueblos, municipalities, counties, schools, businesses and nonprofits including low-income housing & service organizations.

That’s where community solar comes in. Everyone in New Mexico can have the opportunity to go solar by subscribing to a local solar array and tapping into the benefits of our abundant sunshine.

Community solar lowers electric bills, helps cut pollution, and puts choices about our power in the hands of the people. Community solar is also a powerhouse for the local economy.

A recent report by the University of New Mexico BBER found that a statewide community solar program would bring thousands of jobs and drive half a trillion dollars in economic impact. But to expand community solar access to everyone in the state, New Mexico must pass enabling legislation.

Today we hit a major milestone! Senate Bill 84, the Community Solar Act, passed through the Senate Conservation Committee, moving us one step closer to achieving clean energy for all in New Mexico.

Our SOLution New Mexico Coalition joined a committee hearing with over 50 proponents of SB84 registered to speak — and just 5 in opposition. The bill passed out of committee with a strong 6-3 vote, and now moves on to the Senate Tax, Business and Transportation Committee.

We’re proud to be a part of SOLution New Mexico, a broad coalition working to expand solar to all New Mexicans, support energy sovereignty for Tribes & Pueblos, and rebuild New Mexico’s economy and rural communities with clean, locally produced community solar.

Rick Gilliam, Vote Solar’s Senior Director of Distributed Generation Regulatory Policy, testified at the hearing on the savings and benefits of community solar, along with city officials and more coalition partners.

Joseph Hernandez, Diné Outreach Organizer with Native American Voters Alliance Education Project and member of the Navajo Nation showed off the Navajo Tech Energy Systems Program’s community solar training lab in the background of his Zoom! Joseph is a member of the Tribal Community Solar Task Force and spoke on the thorough Tribal consultation and outreach in the development of SB84.

The Community Solar Act positions Tribes & Pueblos as leaders on renewable energy, while providing economic development to their communities. As Vote Solar and our coalition partners worked tirelessly to support this bill’s development, we centered the priorities, input and expertise of Tribal leaders through this Task Force and the All Pueblo Council of Governors.

Picuris Pueblo has been a solar leader, working with Kit Carson Electric Cooperative, Inc. to power their community and the local region with community solar. However, other Tribes, Pueblos, and Nations are blocked on their path to energy sovereignty. We’re proud that SB84 levels the playing field so that all Native communities can choose solar.

Vote Solar played a leadership role in the Senate Community Solar Working Group, which convened 90 stakeholder members over six month to develop SB84 using a consensus process. The Community Solar Act builds on the commitments made in New Mexico’s game-changing Energy Transition Act, which targets 50% renewables by 2030and 80% by 2040.

We’re thankful to Senator Liz Stefanics, Senator Linda Lopez, and all eight bill sponsors supporting SB84 and solar for all in New Mexico.

It’s time to democratize New Mexico’s energy system and make sure all New Mexicans can benefit from solar energy. Together we can fulfill the vision of an equitable, 100% clean-powered New Mexico and total energy sovereignty for Tribes & Pueblos.


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