SANTA FE ― An important committee of the New Mexico House of Representatives March 9 voted on a bipartisan basis to advance Senate Bill 227, a bill requiring state government to install solar energy panels 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 of Las Cruces, the bill’s sponsor, said the legislation will give taxpayers and the State potentially huge potential savings on electric and energy costs.
The bill now moves to the House Judiciary Committee for a vote. It has already been approved by the Senate.
“I am grateful to members of the House State Government, Indian and Veterans’ Affairs Committee who supported this common sense legislation. With the huge amount of sunshine we enjoy here, and the serious budget challenges we face, we cannot afford not to take this step. As more and more cities embrace the use of solar power on government facilities, New Mexico is poised to become a leader in this field. SB 227 provides a promising opportunity to save taxpayers money, and create jobs all over the state,” Sen. Steinborn said.
Cities in New Mexico have recently expanded the use of solar power on government facilities including Las Cruces, Albuquerque, and Santa Fe. Other states have also increased their use of solar power using available new methods of financing solar panel purchase and installation.
“The state of New Mexico owns over 750 buildings and currently only has solar power on two of them,” Sen. Steinborn said.
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 2,900 people in New Mexico.
Local solar providers applauded the passage of SB 227 through the Senate. “The solar industry is excited and ready to work with the state to provide cost effective solar energy,” said Karen Paramanandam, marketing director for SunPower for Positive Solar.
“Putting solar panels on state government buildings is a win-win-win for New Mexico: it will help reduce air and water pollution, save the state a lot of money in electricity costs every year, and create jobs right here in New Mexico,” said Sanders Moore, director of Environment New Mexico. “We applaud Sen. Steinborn for taking the lead to move New Mexico forward with renewable electricity.”