Governor Rejects Bill that Encourages Solar Development and Jobs

Environment New Mexico

Santa Fe – Despite hundreds of calls and letters from New Mexicans, Governor Susana Martinez failed to sign a bill that creates economic development, and improves air quality and public health. New Mexicans and the solar industry are disappointed the Governor pocket vetoed the bill that would have extended the tax credit for solar installations and would have assisted job growth in the state.

“New Mexico is the second sunniest state in the country, yet New Jersey gets more of their energy from the sun than we do. This bill would have helped working families in New Mexico to take advantage of this abundant resource that doesn’t use water or pollute our air or water,” stated Sanders Moore, director of Environment New Mexico. “We are disappointed that the Governor did not extend this tax credit that would have stimulated job growth and helped make us be a leader in solar.”

Senate Bill 391: Extend the Solar Market Development Tax Credit sponsored by Sen. Mimi Stewart (D – ABQ), passed with the Senate and House with bipartisan support: 37-5 and 39-24, respectively.

“It is puzzling and ultimately disappointing that Governor Martinez was unwilling to pass SB391 despite bipartisan support,” said David Hughes, CEO of Affordable Solar.  “We don’t yet know how this will impact the thriving solar industry in New Mexico, but what we do know is that there has never been a better time for home and business owners to go solar and reap the financial benefits of the existing tax credits.”

The tax credit for a residential, small commercial, or agricultural solar installation was set to expire at the end of 2016. The bill would have extended the tax credit with a step down from ten percent to five percent by 2024.

“This was a jobs bill. There are more than 60 solar businesses in New Mexico employing thousands of people across the state. These jobs are homegrown and cannot be outsourced,” said Sen. Mimi Stewart, the bill’s sponsor. “Subsequently, improving air quality reduces the number of children’s asthma attacks. I am disheartened that the Governor did not sign the bill which would have continued supporting the solar industry that provides jobs, protects our environment, and improves public health.”

The solar tax credit has boosted New Mexico’s economy. New Mexico was just ranked in the top ten states for renewable energy job growth by Environmental Entrepreneurs with more than 1,600 employed in the industry at the end of 2014. The tax credit also provides a $13 million net benefit to the general fund each year.  

“From 2012 to 2013, the number of jobs in the solar industry in New Mexico grew 73%, providing high-paying jobs to New Mexicans across the state,” said Glenn Schiffbauer of the New Mexico Green Chamber of Commerce. “The Green Chamber of Commerce is saddened that Governor Martinez did not sign this bill that would have helped maintain job growth in the solar industry and the State of New Mexico when we so desperately need them.”