New Mexico’s legislature has overwhelmingly endorsed a bill which would see the state secure 100% of its electricity needs from zero-carbon resources by 2045, and sent it to the governor’s desk.
Tthe Senate voted 32-9 last week to pass the Energy Transition Act (SB 489), which calls for generating 80% of the state’s electricity from renewable energy sources by 2040 and 100% from “carbon-free” sources by 2045.
This week, the state’s House of Representatives voted 43-22 in favour of the bill, sending it to the Governor’s desk.
The bill states that “no later than January 1, 2045, zero carbon resources shall supply one hundred percent of all retail sales of electricity in New Mexico. Reasonable and consistent progress shall be made over time toward this requirement.” Interim targets include renewable energy targets of 40% by 2025, 50% by 2030, and 80% by 2040.
The state’s Governor, Michelle Lujan Grisham, has already pledged support for the bill.
Writing in an op-ed published last week, the Governor described 20Senate Bill 489 as “bold, comprehensive legislation that will establish the state as a national leader in both renewable energy and address the causes of climate change, providing a pathway for a low-carbon energy transition away from coal and providing workforce training and transition assistance to affected communities.”
“The Energy Transition Act … takes from many proposed solutions and paves the best possible path forward to lead New Mexico into a clean energy future while protecting and supporting the San Juan community. The ETA will transform energy in New Mexico—it deserves our support.”
Further, a spokesperson for the Governor has been quoted as saying that “The governor will sign the bill as quickly as possible — we’re hoping it is enrolled and engrossed and sent to her desk by Friday.”
New Mexico’s Public Service Co., the state’s largest utility, also supports the measure.
“New Mexico is poised to set a precedent with the Energy Transition Act,” said Julie McNamara, senior energy analyst at the Union of Concerned Scientists.
“The bill balances the challenges and opportunities of the state’s energy transition, committing to a bold forward course while carefully navigating the shift away from coal.
“The bill also demonstrates the state’s willingness to thoughtfully and proactively grapple with a declining coal industry. It supports economic development and training for affected coal industry workers and communities. Throughout, the bill upholds ratepayer protections and ensures that customers will benefit.
“New Mexico’s power sector is at a crossroads, and the Energy Transition Act can serve as a valuable guide.
“With a strengthened renewable energy standard, a clear commitment to fully decarbonizing the state’s electricity sector by midcentury, and dedicated attention to readying the state’s workforce for good jobs that are built to last, this is an opportunity for the state’s policymakers to enact clean energy solutions with long-term benefits for all New Mexicans.”
“Passage of the Energy Transition Act gives great hope to New Mexico and everyone who wants a livable future on our planet,” added Camilla Feibelman, director of the Sierra Club Rio Grande Chapter.
“The world’s top scientists tell us we have only 12 years to take transformative action to prevent the worst consequences of climate disruption.
“The Energy Transition Act is an innovative and powerful answer to that clarion call. This is a significant win for New Mexico ratepayers, our environment, workers, and communities in the Four Corners region who will have new opportunities to participate in our growing clean energy economy.”
The policy is a big step forward for New Mexico which, as of November 2018, secured 50% of its electricity from coal, 30% from natural gas, and only 20% from renewable energy sources, according to the US Energy Information Administration.
The move also comes within days of several other announcements made by US states promising variations of 100% carbon-free or renewable energy electricity – including Wisconsin, Minnesota, and Illinois – which we covered last week.
Specifically, Wisconsin is aiming for 100% carbon-free by 2050, Illinois is looking at 100% renewable energy by 2050, as is Minnesota.
This flurry of announcements builds on momentum created by Hawaii, California, and Washington DC who have all passed 100% renewable electricity bills in the past couple of years.