SANTA FE ― The Senate Conservation Committee Feb. 14 voted unanimously to pass Senate Bill 227, a bill that would require the State to utilize solar power on its 750 buildings so long as it would “provide a net savings on utility costs and not require any upfront costs.” Sen. Jeff Steinborn (D- 36-Dona Ana), the sponsor of SB 227, said the move would be a huge win-win opportunity for the state of New Mexico.
“By harnessing our abundant solar resources on state buildings, we would not only save taxpayers potentially millions of dollars of utility costs over time, but also create needed good jobs in New Mexico in the process. The state of New Mexico owns over 750 buildings and currently only has solar power on two of them,” Sen. Steinborn said.
The General Services Department (GSD) is the central clearinghouse for state government, providing office space, state vehicles, health care policies, and more to state agencies and staff. GSD owns over 750 State Buildings and leases another 2,000,000 square feet of office space.
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.
According to the Solar Foundation, the solar industry employs 1,600 people in New Mexico.
Matthew Davis, past President of the New Mexico Association of Energy Engineers supports the new energy efficiency legislation.
“The state is lagging behind some of our counties and cities as many of them are already pursuing energy efficiency and renewable resources in their facilities. This has the potential to save many millions of dollars in the long run, and alleviate some of the stress on our aging utility grid,” he said.