March 10, 2023

Office of Renewable Energy bill heads to governor’s desk

Still from State Land Office video

Wind turbines on state trust land.

A bill that would codify the Office of Renewable Energy within the State Land Office is headed to the governor’s desk.

The Senate passed HB 95 on Thursday on a 27-8 vote.

StateLand Commissioner Stephanie Garcia Richard established the Office of Renewable Energy in 2019.

Sen. Craig Brandt, R-Rio Rancho, asked what the need is for HB 95 because the Office of Renewable Energy already exists.

“This is really looking forward,” Sen. Carrie Hamblen, D-Las Cruces said. She presented the bill on the Senate floor. “One of the things that we have a tendency of doing is not looking at what we can do down the line. And so by having this office officially established in the State Land Office, we’ll ensure that future of making sure that renewable energy is focused on in the State Land Office.”

Brandt argued that HB 95 would tie the hands of future land commissioners, who are elected every four years.

“The world of energy continues to change, it continues to progress,” Brandt said. “So as new technologies are developed, new things may become renewable energy.”

“I don’t think it’s something that we need to put into law,” Brandt said.

Sen. William Sharer, R-Farmington, asked if the Office of Renewable Energy would be recruiting people to locate renewable energy projects on state land. Hamblen said that the office would because that is how the State Land Office makes money for the schools in New Mexico. Last year, renewable energy produced $12 million for the state.

“If we are going to continue to work on diversifying our revenue and providing jobs to those moving from the oil fields to the solar fields and to maximize the financial impact for our schools, this is a benefit to our entire state,” Hamblen said.