A bill that would require new homes to be built with the capability to charge electric vehicles and would require contractors to offer solar arrays for new homes passed the House Energy, Environment and Natural Resources Committee on a 7-4 vote on Thursday. SB 77, sponsored by Sen. William Soules, D-Las Cruces, originally would have required new homes to have photovoltaic systems capable of supplying at least a portion of the electricity needs for the home.
That provision was removed by amendment in the Senate Tax, Business and Transportation Committee on Feb. 20 while at the same time the committee added the requirement for electric vehicle charging.
While the requirement to build the house with solar arrays was removed, the amendment did require that contractors offer it for all new home construction. Rep. Meredith Dixon, D-Albuquerque, asked about the lifespan of a house and the difference in costs between building the house with charging capability versus upgrading later on. She said that the house will likely still be standing when manufactures are only producing electric vehicles.
Utility regulators in New Mexico are preparing for increasing use of electric vehicles in the state and, while they have approved transportation electrification plans for the three investor-owned utilities in New Mexico, they say there is still more work to do. New Mexico Public Regulation Commissioner Joseph Maestas spoke about the need for a rulemaking process for electric transportation and said the PRC must plan for the $38 million that New Mexico will receive for charging infrastructure under the federal Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act. Maetas offered these comments during the PRC’s meeting last week following the approval of two transportation electrification plans.
Southwestern Public Service Company, Public Service Company of New Mexico and El Paso Electric were required to submit transportation electrification plans to the PRC by the start of this year under the PRC Application for Public Safety law that passed the state Legislature in 2019. All three utilities filed these applications in 2020 and these plans have now been adopted. SPS’s plan received PRC approval in September and, on Nov.
While there may not be a lot of electric vehicles on the roads today, Kit Carson Electric Cooperative CEO Luis Reyes said his utility is taking steps to prepare for this to change in the upcoming years. Hundreds of electric vehicle charging stations have been installed around the state and utilities are preparing for more. Reyes said rural areas often lag behind when it comes to infrastructure of all kinds. He highlighted broadband gaps as an example. During the COVID-19 pandemic, students in rural areas with less access to broadband struggled with remote learning.
Gerald Espinosa vividly remembers his anxiety-riddled drive up Colorado’s McClure Pass in May 2015, watching the charge on his fully electric Fiat 500e plummet as he inched toward the 8,755-foot summit. He was in the final stretch of what normally would have been a four-hour jaunt from Denver to Paonia, in the western part of the state. With charging stops, it ended up being a two-day trip. His car packed with bikes and clothing, he spent the last few hours charging the battery in his electric vehicle, or EV, in Carbondale. As he climbed, the remaining range on his charge dropped from 70 miles to 40 to 30.