March 1, 2023

Low-Income Solar Act clears Senate Conservation Committee

A bill to make it easier for low-income households to access solar energy passed the Senate Conservation Committee on Tuesday on a 6-3 vote.

SB 432 would require the New Mexico Public Regulation Commission to adopt rules by Jan. 1 regarding low-income solar credits and requires regulated utilities to provide virtual net metering for low-income customers who receive energy from shared solar arrays.

“We believe that this is a vital bill that will enable a just transition to renewable energy,” Jim DesJardins, the executive director of Renewable Energy Industries Association of New Mexico, said while helping present the bill to the committee.

Both proponents and opponents compared it to the Community Solar Act.

Xcel Energy, the parent company of Southwestern Public Service Company, opposed the bill. SPS has also challenged the community solar rules that the PRC adopted in the state Supreme Court, alleging that the rules do not include enough consumer protections.

The bill now heads to the Senate Tax, Business and Transportation Committee.

SB 432 is sponsored by Sen. Carrie Hamblen, D-Las Cruces.