Originally published on ILSR.org.
Governor Michelle Lujan Grisham signed the Energy Transition Act (SB 489) in 2019, which introduced the idea of a community solar program, and also mandated that New Mexico move to 50% renewable energy by 2030. However, New Mexico’s community solar program was truly born in 2021, when the Community Solar Act (SB 84) established New Mexico’s official program.
After a three-hour filibuster, the Community Solar Act (SB 84) passed on April 5, 2021. The act authorized community solar projects in the state and requires that 30 percent of each community solar facility serves low-income households. The first three years of the program are capped at 200 megawatts of total generating capacity. This total does not include native community solar projects or rural electric distribution cooperatives. The bill defines “native community solar projects’ ‘ as facilities located on native land that is owned or operated by “an Indian nation, tribe, or pueblo or a tribal entity or in partnership with a third-party entity.” This addresses ILSR’s third principle: that any community solar policy must be additive, rather than detract from any existing renewable energy policy. Subscriptions can supply up to 100% of subscribers’ average annual electricity consumption.
New Mexico is the second sunniest state in the United States, with an average of 300 days per year of sunshine. This climate makes the state a prime candidate for solar power. Early estimates suggest that New Mexico’s community solar program should be up and running by Spring 2022. The Community Solar Act requires that the Public Regulation Commission finalize the rules process by April 1, 2022.
In addition to investor-owned utilities, third parties can own community solar facilities ( fulfilling the Institute for Local Self Reliance’s second principle of successful community renewable energy, flexibility). The system is regulated through renewable energy certificates. In the case of community solar facilities, these certificates are actually owned by the electric utility to which the facility is interconnected. These certificates may be traded or sold, and serve as proof of compliance with New Mexico’s renewable portfolio standard. The community solar program will help to fulfill New Mexico’s requirement that investor-owned utilities are carbon-free by 2045 and 2050, respectively.
A study by the University of New Mexico’s Bureau of Business and Economic Research predicts that the community solar project will be a massive boost to New Mexico’s economy. For a small state, the numbers are staggering: 3,760 jobs over the next five years, $517 million in economic benefits, $147 million in labor income, and $2.9 million yearly in tax revenue. Community Solar also offers excellent benefits to small and medium sized landowners, like local farms, many of whom do not possess the amount of property necessary to host a full-scale solar plant. Additionally, projects can partner with local farms and offer landowners revenue for leasing space to solar gardens.
In addition to the boons to New Mexico’s economy as a whole, individual subscribers will receive meaningful benefits. Utilities must provide credits to subscribers for at least twenty-five years after interconnection. The credit rate is proportional to the kilowatt-hour production of their share of the facility, and is “derived from the qualifying utility’s aggregate retail rate on a per customer-class basis”. That amount is then credited to the subscriber’s bill from the provider. If a subscriber uses less than their allotted credit’s worth of electricity in a given month, the surplus amount is applied to their next month.
The program has yet to start, but based on these factors and predictions, New Mexico’s plan passes the Institute for Local Self Reliance’s first principle for successful community renewable energy, tangible benefits.
Promoting Indigenous Power
Tribal lands cover 10% of New Mexico, the third highest of any state. There are already multiple small-scale tribal owned solar facilities, including a 115 KW system for the Santo Domingo Tribe. Native community solar gardens are exempted from the overall cap and the individual 100% of average annual consumption limits. The Act states further that “nothing in the Community Solar Act shall preclude an Indian nation, tribe, or pueblo from using financial mechanisms other than subscription models, including virtual and aggregate net-metering, for native community solar projects.
Access To All
Beyond the Indigenous-focused pieces, the program contains further components designed to ensure access for a wide variety of subscribers, fulfilling ILSR’s fourth principle. All subscriber material must be printed in English, Spanish, and, if applicable, native or Indigenous languages. New Mexico’s Public Regulation Commission vows to seek input from a variety of stakeholders, which the Act notes includes “low-income stakeholders … disproportionately impacted communities … (and) Indian nations, tribes, and pueblos.” The program’s 30 percent capacity carveout for low-income subscribers compares favorably with other programs.
For more on solar in New Mexico, check out these ILSR resources:
Learn more about community solar in one of these ILSR reports:
For podcasts, videos, and more, see ILSR’s community renewable energy archive.
Featured photo credit: formulanone via Flickr (CC BY-SA 2.0)
Ford Mustang Mach-E to lose EV tax credit
If you are thinking about buying Ford’s electric Mustang Mach-E, you may want to do so before the end of the year. Ford expects the Mach-E will no longer qualify for the federal EV tax credit.
Ford Mach-E will no longer qualify for the EV tax credit
The Inflation Reduction Act (IRA) is due for drastric changes at the end of the year that will affect which EVs will qualify for the tax credit.
Starting on January 1, more restrictions will be put into place. EVs with battery components from a “foreign entity of concern,” including China will lose a portion of the tax credit.
In 2025, the rules will get even tighter. The changes are designed to promote manufacturing in the US while building up a reliable EV supply chain network.
Ford expects to be among several automakers with EVs losing access. Tesla has already said its Model 3 RWD and Long Range will lose $3,750, starting January 1. Meanwhile, it will still qualify for the other $3,750.
In a bulletin sent to dealers (via CarsDirect), Ford said it expects the changes to impact the Mustang Mach-E. Although Ford is “awaiting finalized requirements,” given what we know, “it is unlikely that any Mustang Mach-Es will qualify” beginning the first of the year.
The company didn’t explain why the Mach-E will no longer qualify for the EV tax credit, but it’s likely due to the CATL-supplied LFP batteries.
Qualified customers are still eligible for a $3,750 credit, “making this an excellent motivator to purchase before the end of the year,” Ford added.
Shoppers can still take advantage of the full $7,500 tax credit through leasing. Meanwhile, Ford didn’t indicate the Lightning would be impacted by the changes.
Ford’s electric truck had its best sales month ever in November. All F-150 Lightning trims, except the Platinum version, qualify for up to $7,500 in savings. The Platinum model is excluded as it exceeds the IRA’s $80K cutoff.
Ready to make a move and save on Ford’s electric vehicles while you still can? You can use our links below to find great deals at a dealership near you today.
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The US’s first utility-scale offshore wind farm delivers its first power
New York’s South Fork Wind has become the first utility-scale offshore wind farm to generate power in the US.
The first operational wind turbine at South Fork Wind sent clean power to Long Island today. The project has completed the installation of two turbines around 35 miles off Montauk, with all 12 SG 11-200 DD Siemens Gamesa turbines expected to be installed by early 2024.
The energy produced is being sold to the Long Island Power Authority under the terms of a 20-year agreement.
Stephanie McClellan, executive director at offshore wind nonprofit Turn Forward, said:
The generation of power from South Fork Wind is an incredible moment in the American clean energy story and for the Long Island communities that will benefit from this project for decades to come.
The 130-megawatt (MW) South Fork Wind will be the US’s first completed utility-scale wind farm in federal waters.
Danish renewables giant Ørsted is jointly developing the offshore wind farm with Boston-based energy provider Eversource. South Fork Wind’s first offshore wind turbine foundation was installed at the end of June, and its first US-built offshore substation was completed at the end of July.
South Fork Wind will produce enough clean energy to power 70,000 homes in New York. It will deliver clean energy directly to the electric grid in East Hampton via a single transmission line installed in March.
It will eliminate up to 6 million tons of carbon emissions, or the equivalent of taking 60,000 cars off the road annually over a 25-year period.
Photo: South Fork Wind
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U.S. crude drops below $70 per barrel, gas prices fall to 11-month low
Gas prices at a Shell gas station in Washington, DC, US, on Tuesday, Nov. 28, 2023.
Al Drago | Bloomberg | Getty Images
U.S. crude declined nearly 4% on Wednesday with retail gasoline prices hitting the lowest point since January ahead of the holiday shopping and travel season.
U.S. crude and the global benchmark have hit their lowest levels since June, despite efforts by OPEC+ to boost prices by promising to slash supply in the first quarter of 2024.
Prices at the pump in the U.S., meanwhile, have followed oil prices lower to hit $3.22 a gallon on average as of Wednesday, the lowest price since Jan. 3, according to AAA.
Oil prices have been on a steep downward trajectory from September highs as nations outside OPEC+, particularly the U.S., pump crude at breakneck clip and worries grow about the Chinese economy.
Moody’s on Tuesday downgraded its outlook for China’s government credit raging to negative from stable.
U.S. crude inventories fell by 4.6 million barrels for the week ending Dec. 1 and gasoline supplied to the market increased by 260,000 barrels per day, according to the Energy Information Agency.
Falling inventories and rising gasoline deliveries implies higher demand, which would typically boost oil prices. Pessimism about the economic outlook in China, however, appeared to be weighing heavier on crude prices.
Oil traders have also been skeptical OPEC+, which includes OPEC members and its allies like Russia, will deliver on supply cuts of 2.2 million bpd in the first quarter next year.
Several OPEC+ members announced the voluntary cuts last week after the group failed to reach a unanimous agreement on production targets.
Saudi Energy Minister Price Abdulaziz bin Salman and Russian Deputy Prime Minister Alexander Novak sough to assure the market this week that they could extend or even deepen the promised cuts.
Tamas Varga, an analyst with PVM Oil Associates, said those reassurances have “fallen to deaf ears.”
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