Bill gutting Renewable Energy Act dies in Senate

On March 17, the New Mexico Senate Conservation Committee voted 6-2 to table HB 445, which sought to eliminate New Mexico’s requirement for 20 percent renewable energy by 2020.

Tabling HB 445, sponsored by Rep. Larry Scott (R-Lea), means it is most likely dead for this session. The legislation passed the House by a vote of 33-32 last week. Had it passed the Senate, it almost surely would have been signed by the governor into law.

HB 445 would have stopped our Renewable Portfolio Standard cold at the current requirement of 15 percent, despite the fact that these requirements have driven millions of dollars of investment, tax revenue and lease payments and thousands of jobs so far in New Mexico. More than 500 New Mexicans contacted their representatives in opposition to this bill.

No members of the public spoke in favor of the bill. Those speaking in opposition included the Public Regulation Commission, which enforces the requirements, the AARP, which often opposes renewable energy and energy efficiency but noted Tuesday that they support renewable-energy laws if there is a restraint on costs, as our law has. Large customers’ costs are capped at 2 percent of their bills, and residents’ costs are capped at 3 percent of their bills. Several other opponents of the bill pointed this out when Rep. Scott blamed large utility rate increases on the Renewable Energy Act. A representative of the San Miguel-Mora Co-op pointed out that her rates had skyrocketed since 2007, “and we have no renewable energy!” (Co-ops aren’t held to the same standards under the law as investor-owned utilities such as PNM).

Sen. John Ryan joined Democrats in voting to table the bill. Ryan pointed out that the Renewable Energy Act’s requirements are a great way to make utilities modernize and diversify their portfolios in a gradual way. Thanks to Sen. Ryan, Sen. Joe Cervantes, Sen. Peter Wirth, Sen. Richard Martinez, Sen. William Soules and Sen. Benny Shendo for stopping this harmful bill!

Featured photo by Bernd Sieker

Bill gutting Renewable Energy Act dies in Senate