March 29, 2019

2019 New Mexico Legislative Roundup – Sustainable Energy

2019 was a banner year for clean energy legislation in New Mexico

By Anne Jakle

Clean and sustainable energy was a hot topic at the 2019 New Mexico Legislative Session. At least four bills and two memorials that passed are relevant to the NM SMART Grid Center research and associated education and workforce development components.

The Energy Transition Act (SB 489), signed into law this March, requires investor-owned utilities to provide 50% of electricity from renewable energy by 2030, 80% by 2040, and 100% of electricity from zero-carbon energy by 2045. With this legislation, New Mexico joins Hawaii and California in having the nation’s most aggressive clean energy standards. Our NM SMART Grid Center team’s research will help provide solutions to maintain the resiliency and reliability of the future electricity grid that relies on a much greater portion of renewable energy resources.

House Memorial 71, “Smart, Hybrid Microgrids for New Energy,” requires the Renewable Energy Transmission Authority (RETA) to establish a task force to study the efficacy of smart, hybrid microgrids to accelerate a clean energy transition. NM SMART Grid Center researchers can provide input into this study and help develop a path for deployment of distribution feeder microgrids in New Mexico.

Senate Memorial 24 spans both the NM SMART Grid Center and our last NSF Track 1 project, Energize New Mexico, in calling for “State Agency Support for Future Energy Careers.” NM EPSCoR has advanced energy workforce planning in New Mexico by sponsoring the Energy Workforce Development track at the 2018 New Mexico First Town Hall and the New Mexico Energy Roadmap. The NM SMART Grid Center will also support future energy-sector workers by training next-generation grid professionals through the Santa Fe Community College Smart- and Microgrid Training Center.

Other successful legislation from the 2019 Session updates the state energy efficiency standards (HB291) and requires public utilities to develop a plan to meet electric vehicle charging needs (HB521). In all, the work of the NM EPSCoR SMART Grid Center lies squarely within the priorities of our state to transition to a more sustainable, modern electricity system, and it can inform state decision makers as we move toward realizing this new, changed grid.