March 23, 2019

Lujan Grisham signs bill to transition NM to renewable energy

Friday, Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham signed into law a sweeping bill that bumps the state’s use of renewable energy.

The new law sets a standard to produce 50 percent of the state’s energy through renewable sources in the next ten years and 80 percent within the next 20 years. Beyond the push for more renewable energy, the law also allows the Public Service Company of New Mexico (PNM) to issue bonds at lower interest rates to pay off debts associated with a coal powered plant in the northwest corner of the state. It also establishes a $20 million fund to help workers and communities that will be affected by the shutdown of the San Juan Generating Station.

In the Roundhouse rotunda, where Lujan Grisham signed Senate Bill 489, lawmakers and advocates said the governor was relentless in getting the bill passed through the Legislature with as few changes as possible.

Lujan Grisham returned praises to the lawmakers that pushed the bill.

“I’m just lucky to be the governor of such an incredibly, beautiful, strong, productive, fair, innovative state and indeed all of you are lucky to have this kind of representation,” the governor said of the legislators.  

In addition to the governor, Conservation Voters of New Mexico (CVNM), PNM and business and labor groups supported Candelaria’s bill.

Opponents of the legislation included the Rio Grande Foundation, a free-market think tank, as well as New Energy Economy, a local environmental group.  

Candelaria sponsored a similar version of the bill last year and faced push-back from groups like CVNM. But through compromises he was able to get their support for this year’s version of the bill. In the past two years, Candelaria estimates that lawmakers and stakeholders spent “hundreds and hundreds, if not thousands, of hours” to get the bill to the governor’s office.

“I feel an enormous sense of gratitude and pride in the state and in our governor and Legislature, for doing the hard work to bring together this historic piece of legislation,” Candelaria said.