ALBUQUERQUE – A measure aimed at increasing New Mexico’s reliance on renewable energy and easing the economic pains of shuttering a coal-fired power plant in the northwest corner of the state cleared a major legislative hurdle late Wednesday after a lengthy debate.
The Senate voted 32-9 in favor of the measure, sending it to the House for consideration as lawmakers prepare to wrap up the session in less than two weeks.
Democratic Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham, who campaigned on boosting the number of wind turbines and solar panels around the state, has said she supports the measure. She considers it a compromise.
“It 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,” she said in a statement issued the day before the debate.
The bill would allow the state’s largest electric provider — Public Service Co. of New Mexico — and other owners of the San Juan Generating Station to recover investments made in the coal-fired plant by selling bonds that are later paid off by utility customers.
It also would establish funds to help affected communities and displaced workers and would mandate that any replacement energy sources be constructed in the school district where the San Juan Generating Station is located. Supporters say that would help offset lost tax revenues.