APPA News

by Peter Maloney
APPA News
Posted March 13, 2019

New Mexico is poised to become the third state mandating a 100% clean energy standard and could likely be joined by other states looking at legislation that would require a move to 100% clean energy.

In a 32-9 vote, the New Mexico House of Representatives on Tuesday passed the Energy Transition Act (SB 489), which raises the state’s renewable portfolio standard to 50% by 2030 and 80% by 2040 and mandates 100% carbon dioxide free energy by 2045 for investor-owned utilities in the state.

The state’s Senate overwhelmingly approved the legislation with bipartisan support on March 6. The bill now goes to the desk of Democratic Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham, who is expected to sign it. She issued a press release Tuesday praising the House vote.

New Mexico began its transition away from fossil fuels when the state’s largest utility, Public Service Company of New Mexico announced plans to phase out coal-fired generation by 2031.

When considering replacement generation sources, the new law directs state regulators “to prefer resources with the least environmental impacts, those with higher ratios of capital costs to fuel costs and those able to reduce the cost of reclamation and use for lands previously mined within the county of the qualifying generating facility.”

In January, Grisham signed an executive order that committed New Mexico to the U.S. goals of the Paris Climate Agreement of reducing carbon dioxide emissions by at least 45% below 2005 levels by 2030. In June, President Donald Trump announced plans to pull the U.S. out of the Paris agreement.

Hawaii became the first state to adopt a 100%-by-2045 renewable energy standard in 2015. California followed suit in 2018, setting a target of 100% clean energy by 2045. And late last year, the District of Columbia City Council passed a bill implementing a 100%-by-2032 renewable energy target.

Earlier this month, Tim Walz, Minnesota’s Democratic governor, announced a set of policy proposals intended to lead the state to 100% clean energy by 2050. In February, a bill, HF 700, was introduced in the Minnesota legislature that calls for the state’s utilities to derive 55% of their power from renewable resources by 2030, 80% by 2035 and to be 100% CO2-free by 2050.

Last year legislatures in Maine and Nevada passed clean energy legislation only to have the bills vetoed, but since then newly elected governors have given new hope to those efforts. Nevada’s new Democratic Gov. Steve Sisolak has committed to cutting greenhouse gas emissions by 26% to 28% by 2025. Maine’s new Democratic governor, Janet Mills, ran on a platform that included a promise to reduce greenhouse gases by 80% by 2030 and to commit to 100% renewable energy by 2050.

In other states, newly elected governors are also pushing for higher renewable energy standards. Jared Polis, Colorado’s new Democratic governor, ran on a campaign of moving the state to 100% clean energy by 2040. And new Democratic governors in Connecticut, Illinois and Oregon also won on platforms that call for moving their states to 100% clean energy.