NM receives US$156 million to promote solar energy projects

Category: News
Published: 2024-05-03
NM receives US$156 million to promote solar energy projects

NEW MEXICO – The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) announced that New Mexico has been awarded US$156 million from the Solar for All competition.

The Energy, Minerals and Natural Resources Department (EMNRD) will administer New Mexico’s Solar for All Program, designed to make solar energy available to some 20,910 homes in the state.

“EPA’s Solar for All Program is an unprecedented investment in clean, affordable renewable energy for low-income communities across the country,” said Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham.

The EMNRD’s Energy Conservation and Management Division (ECMD) estimates that the Solar for All program will save New Mexico residents more than US$299 million in energy costs over a 20-year period, while preventing the emission of 116,628 tons of carbon dioxide into the atmosphere.

The New Mexico government noted that with federal funding already secured, the EMNRD is working toward the official launch of the program, with the expectation that the program’s first solar system installations will begin in early 2025.

EMNRD’s plans to roll out the Solar for All Program include awarding a series of grants and low-interest loans to entities that will provide access to solar energy in rural and low-income households across the state.

“Our Solar for All Program is designed to reach underserved communities in New Mexico, with a focus on supporting shared solar access projects in rural and tribal communities,” said EMNRD Deputy Secretary Dylan Fuge.

Shared solar access, or community solar access projects, create solar energy systems that multiple households, including tenants in multifamily housing, can draw from. The EMNRD strategy also calls for working with the New Mexico Public Regulation Commission (PRC) to fund local electric infrastructure upgrades to ensure the proper operation of community solar systems.

Grants will also be provided to develop residential solar systems in areas where community solar is not feasible, such as tribal homes that are not connected to the grid. The program will repair rooftops to install solar panels where necessary.

According to ECMD’s preliminary modeling, the Solar for All program will add 21 megawatts of solar power capacity to the state’s electric grid. The program is also expected to produce 8.1 megawatt hours of stored energy for deployment when sunlight is insufficient to generate solar power. Where possible, ECMD expects to install storage alongside the solar panels to bolster the grid and increase resiliency.