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Important legislative alerts!

February 17, 2017

Dear friends --

Ideally, this organization would be keeping up better with important bills in the New Mexico Legislature.

Be that as it may, here follow some very important bills we think everyone should know about. Please take whatever action you can to help support or defeat them, as the case may be!

Remember, New Mexico is a small state and YOUR actions, knowledge, connections, and sincerity count for a lot -- more than you might think!

First, here are legislators' phone numbers and office numbers (in case you can go to the Capitol in person) for the House (pdf) and Senate (pdf). And here are mailing addresses, business and personal phone numbers, and emails for the House (pdf) and Senate (pdf). 

It is very easy to find legislation by bill number, sponsor, or key word at https://www.nmlegis.gov/. The links we provide below give the text, status, fiscal impact report, and other information about each bill.

Legislation shown in bright green is legislation we particularly endorse, or are opposed to. Ordinary type is used where we are just passing on recommendations of the group shown -- we just haven't had time to analyze the bill ourselves or know too little about it. 

Let's start with these recommendations by the Rio Grande Sierra Club:

Pro-Environment Legislation:

Sen. Wirth’s SB215, which makes it much easier for homeowners to finance rooftop solar, energy storage or water-conservation projects (and allows the financing to stay with the house after it’s sold). Renewable Energy Financing District Act (REFDA) is New Mexico's implementation of the concept known nationally as "PACE" - Property Assessed Clean Energy. With PACE, the installation of a renewable-energy system, energy-efficiency improvements, energy storage, or water-conservation measures may be financed through a local taxing district that creates a special assessment and a lien against the improved property.

Increase renewable energy (SB312): The Clean-Energy Jobs Bill would require New Mexico investor-owned utilities to provide 50% of their electricity from renewable energy by 2030, and 80% by 2040. The current Renewable Energy Act, last amended in 2007, has created thousands of New Mexico jobs, one of our state’s few employment bright spots.

Solar tax credits: These bills would all restore the tax credit for New Mexicans who install solar on their rooftops. It is another proven job-creator and boosts the solar industry. Sarah Maestas Barnes has Pre-filed HB61 to extend the Solar Market Tax Credit and in the Senate they have filled SB41 supported by Mimi Stewart, Matthew McQueen and Sarah Maestas Barnes.

Anti-Environment Legislation:

Solar-company regulations HB199, SB210: This is a PNM bill that, under the guise of consumer protection, puts a host of onerous requirements on companies that install residential solar panels. The bill would be especially difficult for smaller, local companies to comply with, despite few consumer complaints from these companies.

And here is what New Energy Economy has to say about this pair of anti-solar bills:

Under the guise of "consumer protection" PNM is attempting to obstruct solar in this year's legislature

From the playbook of the The Koch Brothers’ American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC), PNM has introduced HB199 and SB210, legislation designed to put small and medium solar installers out of business by imposing cumbersome regulations and financing restrictions that go beyond the industry standards already in place. One of the most outrageous requirements under the proposed bill is that solar installers would be required to refer customers to PNM to answer any questions about the solar system proposal for their home. PNM is trying to use their monopoly might to hamper rooftop solar in NM and advance a national movement to squander [squash?] the solar industry. Please raise your voices against this legislation. The Senate bill will be heard next in the Judiciary. We have strong Democrats in that committee that need to hear from you.

We very much agree, having heard precisely the same story from two solar companies ourselves.It is really important to kill these bills.

350.org New Mexico is also very much behind SB312. Here is their page about the bill.

Finally, New Mexico Climate Action is sponsoring Renewable Energy Day at the Roundhouse on Friday, March 3, 9 am – 3 pm, with more details to come. To reserve a table for your organization for this event, contact Leslie: lbarnhart48@gmail.com. It would be very worthwhile to make a real show of strength on March 3!

We are sure there are many more important bills but these stand out right now for us. We do not believe it will be possible for the New Mexico economy to thrive without a very robust, community-changing commitment to home-grown, home-owned, renewable energy. We do not see this as yet but we can get there if everybody pitches in!

Please also see the previous letter for information about the new solar co-op in formation -- or better, go here.

That's all for tonight -- thank you for your attention and action!

Greg and Trish, for the Study Group


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