Renewable energy bills on tap for the 2021 session

The Legislature will be considering a handful of renewable energy-related legislation in the upcoming session. Here are some of the bills we’ll be watching.  Clean fuel standard: Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham announced that a clean fuel standard is one of her legislative priorities for the upcoming 60-day session. The fuel standard would only apply to […]

Renewable energy bills on tap for the 2021 session

The Legislature will be considering a handful of renewable energy-related legislation in the upcoming session. Here are some of the bills we’ll be watching. 

Clean fuel standard: Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham announced that a clean fuel standard is one of her legislative priorities for the upcoming 60-day session. The fuel standard would only apply to the producers of fuel, not retailers such as gas stations. The fuel standard would reduce the state’s transportation emissions by 230,000 metric tons of CO2 annually, the governor said in a press release. 

Local Choice Energy Act: Las Cruces Democratic state Senator Jeff Steinborn prefiled a bill that would enable communities to source their own electricity providers. Steinborn, who introduced similar legislation in 2019, said the bill would inject more competition into electricity markets. 

“The reason for it is, it’s just good old-fashioned free market,” Steinborn said. “We have monopoly energy jurisdictions in the state of New Mexico of one provider that’s kind of forced upon us. That lack of choice, unfortunately, I believe, causes us to have more expensive energy than what the free market might provide—and also less environmentally friendly energy.”

The bill would enable local government jurisdictions, such as municipalities, to develop local choice energy programs and solicit bids from competing energy providers. Steinborn said he thinks the bill has the potential to increase renewable energy in the state’s grid. 

“Because of the very affordable cost of renewable energy, and the desire for that type of energy, I believe that if we were to put that to the free market to create competition, then communities would end up finding new opportunities that save money and produce a higher rate of renewable energy than we are currently using now.”

The bill would require any local government that intends to become a local choice energy provider meet the state’s renewable portfolio standard requirements, which includes steadily increasing the share of renewables in electricity generation until it reaches 100 percent in 2045.

But, he added, communities could also set their own renewable goals. 

“A community could say, we were looking for a provider that will provide at least 80 percent of our power through renewable energy, for example,” he said. 

The bill would not require any new transmission lines to be built, but rather utilize transmission lines already in place to transport energy sourced from different providers. 

“The transmission providers would still be the transmission providers who would transmit the energy to your home or to your businesses. It’s just the producer of the energy that can change,” he said. 

Two bills tackle Energy Transition Act: Albuquerque Democratic Senator Bill Tallman and Democratic Senator Liz Stefanics of Cerrillos prefiled a bill that would apply what the two have called “surgical” amendments to the Energy Transition Act (ETA) to reinstate the Public Regulation Commission’s (PRC) ability to regulate PNM rate increases related to plant abandonment costs. The bill comes as the investor-owned PNM applied to exit the coal-fired Four Corners Power Plant, following the utility’s exit of the San Juan Generating Station, which is planned for 2022. 

Clean energy advocacy nonprofit New Energy Economy and others have criticized a provision in the ETA that states the PRC is required to allow “recovery of any undepreciated investments or decommissioning costs by a utility.” 

Mariel Nanasi, New Energy Economy executive director, previously told NM Political Report that the provision essentially enables PNM to increase rates to pay for costs associated with undepreciated investments or decommissioning costs without oversight from PRC. 

“New Mexicans have only one shield against monopoly predation and that’s review and regulation by the PRC,” Nanasi said at the time. “That constitutional protection cannot be bargained away by legislators, no matter how noble their overall goals.”

Las Cruces Democratic Sen. Bill Soules prefiled a separate bill that would tweak the securitization provisions of the ETA. 

Soules told NM Political Report the bill, named the Ratepayer Relief Act, would enable other utilities to use the same financial mechanisms of securitization afforded to PNM under the ETA. 

“Securitization is just a tool that the PRC should have, and they don’t have by statute,” Soules said. “It gives them an ability—after they determine what the value to be securitized is—to set up the financing mechanisms so that ratepayers can get the lowest rates.”

Soules added that the ETA’s securitization provision only applies to PNM and the power plants in the Four Corners area. 

“So because of that, there is no law that affects El Paso Electric when they’re trying to decommission gas plants, or other power plants in other places.”

Soules also prefiled a second bill that would prohibit new fossil fuel generation facilities, including gas plants, from being built in the state. Soules said the bill is needed because fossil fuel generation facilities are “going to be obsolete before they’re at the end of their life.”

Another stab at the EV tax credit: Sen. Bill Tallman prefiled the electric vehicle tax credit bill, after the Legislature nearly passed a version of the same bill during the 2020 legislative session. The bill would create personal income tax credits for New Mexico residents who purchase or lease plug-in hybrid vehicles or 100 percent battery electric vehicles. The bill provides a $2,500 tax credit for residents whose annual income is above $50,000; but the tax credit jumps to $5,000 for residents who make less than $50,000.  

During the last legislative session, both the House and Senate passed two nearly identical bills for the tax credit, but the two chambers were unable to reconcile the bills before the session ended. 

We're ad free

That means that we rely on support from readers like you. Help us keep reporting on the most important New Mexico Stories by donating today.

Related

AG announces legislative priorities for upcoming special session

AG announces legislative priorities for upcoming special session

Attorney General Raúl Torrez announced on Thursday his legislative priorities for July’s special legislative session, including the creation of a crime victim’s unit to…
Correa Hemphill to step down from legislature

Correa Hemphill to step down from legislature

State Sen. Siah Correa Hemphill, a Democrat from Silver City, won’t seek reelection in the general election in November, leaving SD 28, a swing…
Effort to challenge six laws enacted last year comes to an end

Effort to challenge six laws enacted last year comes to an end

Earlier this month, the New Mexico Supreme Court denied and dismissed the effort to challenge six laws enacted in 2023. The New Mexico Supreme…

A rare NM lizard is now listed as endangered

The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service added the dunes sagebrush lizard to the list of endangered species on Friday and is expected to designate…
Interior announces $520 million of funding for water projects

Interior announces $520 million of funding for water projects

The U.S. Department of Interior announced $520 million in funding for 57 projects throughout the United States to improve water infrastructure and drought resiliency…
Survivors, advocates plead for Speaker to allow RECA expansion vote

Survivors, advocates plead for Speaker to allow RECA expansion vote

Millie Chino of Laguna Pueblo teared up as she spoke about her spouse, who died in September due to a health condition linked to…
Amid new graduation requirements, what do high schoolers want to learn?

Amid new graduation requirements, what do high schoolers want to learn?

By Margaret O’Hara, The Santa Fe New Mexican The main things that bring Brayan Chavez to school every day: Seeing, talking to and engaging with…
Special ed teachers hope lawmakers OK pay raises, admin changes

Special ed teachers hope lawmakers OK pay raises, admin changes

By Margaret O’Hara, The Santa Fe New Mexican Brittany Behenna Griffith has a laundry list of adjectives to describe the ideal special education teacher:…
Lawmakers must find consensus on competing education spending plans

Lawmakers must find consensus on competing education spending plans

By Margaret O’Hara, The Santa Fe New Mexican A challenging task awaits New Mexico lawmakers in the next 30 days: Reconciling three very different…
Heinrich questions FDA leadership on baby formula safety, mifepristone

Heinrich questions FDA leadership on baby formula safety, mifepristone

U.S. Food and Drug Administration Commissioner Dr. Robert Califf answered questions about the safety of human milk formula and mifepristone on Wednesday. Sen. Martin…
Health workers fear it’s profits before protection as CDC revisits airborne transmission

Health workers fear it’s profits before protection as CDC revisits airborne transmission

Amy Maxmen, KFF Health News Four years after hospitals in New York City overflowed with covid-19 patients, emergency physician Sonya Stokes remains shaken by…
Lujan Grisham, Biden admin announce $10 million in federal funds for tribes, pueblos

Lujan Grisham, Biden admin announce $10 million in federal funds for tribes, pueblos

Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham announced Friday $10 million in funding from the federal American Rescue Plan Act was awarded to six tribal nations and…
UNM approves land acquisition for Las Cruces reproductive health center

UNM approves land acquisition for Las Cruces reproductive health center

Thursday, the University of New Mexico Board of Regents approved a land acquisition for a full-spectrum reproductive healthcare center, that will include abortion care,…
Heinrich questions FDA leadership on baby formula safety, mifepristone

Heinrich questions FDA leadership on baby formula safety, mifepristone

U.S. Food and Drug Administration Commissioner Dr. Robert Califf answered questions about the safety of human milk formula and mifepristone on Wednesday. Sen. Martin…
Correa Hemphill to step down from legislature

Correa Hemphill to step down from legislature

State Sen. Siah Correa Hemphill, a Democrat from Silver City, won’t seek reelection in the general election in November, leaving SD 28, a swing…
Study: Marriage equality has had a positive impact

Study: Marriage equality has had a positive impact

A recent study found that in the 20 years since Massachusetts became the first state in the U.S. to grant same-sex marriage licenses, same-sex…
UNM approves land acquisition for Las Cruces reproductive health center

UNM approves land acquisition for Las Cruces reproductive health center

Thursday, the University of New Mexico Board of Regents approved a land acquisition for a full-spectrum reproductive healthcare center, that will include abortion care,…
Heinrich questions FDA leadership on baby formula safety, mifepristone

Heinrich questions FDA leadership on baby formula safety, mifepristone

U.S. Food and Drug Administration Commissioner Dr. Robert Califf answered questions about the safety of human milk formula and mifepristone on Wednesday. Sen. Martin…
Correa Hemphill to step down from legislature

Correa Hemphill to step down from legislature

State Sen. Siah Correa Hemphill, a Democrat from Silver City, won’t seek reelection in the general election in November, leaving SD 28, a swing…
Progressives going after incumbents in hot Democratic primaries

Progressives going after incumbents in hot Democratic primaries

By Justin Horwath, NM In Depth It’s a safe bet Democrats will barrel into 2025 with their supremacy intact at the New Mexico Legislature.…
Effort to challenge six laws enacted last year comes to an end

Effort to challenge six laws enacted last year comes to an end

Earlier this month, the New Mexico Supreme Court denied and dismissed the effort to challenge six laws enacted in 2023. The New Mexico Supreme…
Study: Marriage equality has had a positive impact

Study: Marriage equality has had a positive impact

A recent study found that in the 20 years since Massachusetts became the first state in the U.S. to grant same-sex marriage licenses, same-sex…
UNM approves land acquisition for Las Cruces reproductive health center

UNM approves land acquisition for Las Cruces reproductive health center

Thursday, the University of New Mexico Board of Regents approved a land acquisition for a full-spectrum reproductive healthcare center, that will include abortion care,…
Interior announces $520 million of funding for water projects

Interior announces $520 million of funding for water projects

The U.S. Department of Interior announced $520 million in funding for 57 projects throughout the United States to improve water infrastructure and drought resiliency…

GET INVOLVED

© 2023 New Mexico Political Report