New Mexico governor signs landmark clean energy bill

Source: By Susan Montoya Bryan, Associated Press • Posted: Tuesday, March 26, 2019

Making good on a campaign promise, New Mexico Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham on Friday signed landmark legislation that will mandate more solar panels and wind turbines as the state sets ambitious new renewable energy goals.

The Democratic governor, environmentalists and others gathered at the New Mexico State Capitol for a signing ceremony.

The measure requires that investor-owned utilities and rural electric cooperatives get at least half their electricity from renewable sources by 2030. That would jump to 80 percent by 2040.

A 100 percent carbon-free mandate would kick in five years later for utilities. Electric co-ops would have until 2050 to meet that goal.

Lujan Grisham, who took office in January, said the legislation resulted from a year of negotiations that brought together utilities, unions and environmental advocates.

“The Energy Transition Act fundamentally changes the dynamic in New Mexico,” she said in a statement. “This legislation is a promise to future generations of New Mexicans, who will benefit from both a cleaner environment and a more robust energy economy.”

Aside from the renewable energy quotas, funds will be established to help ease the economic pains of closing the coal-fired San Juan Generating Station near Farmington.

Critics described the legislation as a boon for Public Service Co. of New Mexico, which operates the power plant. Language in the law will allow Public Service Co. and other owners of the San Juan plant to recover investments by selling bonds that are later paid off by utility customers.

The utility plans to shutter the plant in 2022 as part of its plans to divest coal-fired generation.

“PNM is fully aware of the challenges this legislation places squarely on our company, but we know there is no better place than New Mexico to grow the renewable energy economy,” said Pat Vincent-Collawn, PNM Resources Inc.’s president and CEO.