Solar energy companies would have to provide more information about the cost and energy savings on residential solar systems under a bill that passed the House of Representatives on Tuesday night by a large bipartisan margin. The House voted 56-6 to pass House Bill 199, sponsored by Rep. Debbie Rodella, D-Española. The bill now goes to the Senate, which last week approved a similar measure, Senate Bill 210, sponsored by Sen. Clemente Sanchez, D-Grants. Rodella told fellow House members that most solar companies have not been a problem. “But a few bad actors ruin it for everyone,” she said.
A study by an environmental group says fossil fuel industry interests are aiming at taking down the growing solar energy industry. The local branch of the group says New Mexico has been resistant to these attempts. Environment America released a study on Tuesday looking at the way these groups attempt to head off solar industry. The study placed blame at the feet of organizations such as the American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC), a controversial conservative group that allows close ties between corporate interests and legislators. While New Mexico is not specifically mentioned in the report, outside of a reference in the footnotes, Environment New Mexico sees this as a local issue.
The latest example of turmoil in the Public Regulation Commission is the resignation of chief of staff Vincent Martinez. The Santa Fe New Mexican reported on Martinez’s resignation. The newspaper says that Martinez handed the commission his resignation while in a closed session. His nearly two-year tenure in the job will end effective August 28, but he will be using leave until then after today. Commissioner Pat Lyons told the Albuquerque Journal that the commissioners were unhappy with Martinez.
Public Regulation Commissioner Valerie Espinoza has been an outspoken critic ride sharing services, such as Uber and Lyft, getting separate rules and regulations from cab companies. She has said her biggest concern is the safety of New Mexicans who get rides from these companies. Recently, the PRC ruled that these companies, known as Transportation Network Companies, would have to abide by rules written by the PRC in order to continue operating in New Mexico. Lyft viewed the regulation as too much and Uber is still in the middle of a legal battle with the commission. Espinoza was the only member of the PRC to vote against the new regulations, but because she didn’t think they were extensive enough.
Attorney General Hector Balderas has weighed in on a controversial proposal by Public Service Company of New Mexico to impose a fee on those who install solar or wind power on their homes or small businesses. Balderas wants the state Public Regulation Commission to study the impact of distributed generation before any decision is made on the program. PNM wants a fee for those who connect to the electrical grid but also generate their own electricity through solar or wind power, which the company says would be basic fairness. “New Mexico needs an accountable plan that guarantees energy security and affordable clean energy for all New Mexicans, and that’s why I am asking the Public Regulation Commission to initiate this investigation into New Mexico’s utility system,” Attorney General Balderas said in a statement earlier this week. “New Mexicans deserve affordable clean energy in places like Mora and Hidalgo County, not just in Las Cruces and Santa Fe,” he continued.