Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham signed into law three pieces of energy-related legislation Tuesday, saying the initiatives will help reduce greenhouse gas emissions and boost the renewables industry.
The governor signed Senate Bill 29, which aims to encourage more homeowners and businesses to install solar power. The bill, sponsored by Sen. Mimi Stewart, D-Albuquerque, and Rep. Matthew McQueen, D-Galisteo, offers a 10 percent income tax break on the cost of solar equipment and installation, with a cap of $6,000 a year per taxpayer.
The initiative renews a similar deal for solar projects in New Mexico that expired in 2016.
The governor also signed House Bill 50, sponsored by Rep. Nathan Small, D-Las Cruces, which aims to encourage renewable energy development by allowing transmission line projects to be eligible for industrial revenue bonds.
“Climate change is a monumental challenge that requires innovative solutions,” Lujan Grisham said in a statement. “Thanks to the leadership of these bill sponsors and the support of the Legislature, we have additional tools to meet this crisis head-on.”
Additionally, Lujan Grisham put pen to paper on House Bill 233, which creates a road map to modernize New Mexico’s electric grid and help it integrate better with regional energy markets.
The legislation also creates a grant program to help communities implement grid projects, which will be supported by a new “grid modernization grant fund” that could help the state obtain federal funding opportunities.
“Modernizing the electric grid to ensure its resilience and security is critical to our economy and the well-being of our communities,” said Rep. Melanie Stansbury, D-Albuquerque, a co-sponsor of the bill. Tuesday’s signings pushed the total number of bills the governor has signed from this year’s session to 15. The governor has just over a week, until March 11, to act on a total of 88 bills passed by the Legislature.
Since taking office 14 months ago, Lujan Grisham’s administration has prioritized efforts to address climate change, including setting goals to reduce carbon emissions, establishing new fuel economy standards and establishing a Methane Advisory Panel.
At the same time, the governor has highlighted her willingness to work with the oil and gas industry, which is presiding over an unprecedented production bonanza in the Permian Basin.
The three bills signed Tuesday garnered quite a bit of bipartisan support during the session. The energy grid modernization and industrial revenue bond measures, for instance, passed unanimously in the Senate.
The Legislative Finance Committee’s fiscal impact report on the solar tax credit bill said it was difficult to determine the volume of residential solar installations in New Mexico because the previous credit expired in 2016.
According to the U.S. Energy Information Administration, more than 16,000 New Mexicans were using solar power as a source of electricity by the end of 2017. Santa Fe-based Positive Energy Solar reported in January it had installed “some 300 residential solar systems in Santa Fe and about the same number in Albuquerque” in 2019.