Report: 25 percent solar within reach

Media Releases

Environment New Mexico Research & Policy Center

Albuquerque – Solar power is growing so fast in New Mexico that goals once considered ambitious are now seen as readily achievable, according to a new report by Environment New Mexico Research & Policy Center.

“For the past several years, the growth of the solar industry has consistently outpaced all projections. If we foster the growth of solar here in New Mexico, we’re looking at a better future for our environment, our communities, and our economy,” said Breann Ryan of Environment New Mexico Research & Policy Center.

The group’s researchers found that solar has grown 81% in recent years. Even if this pace slowed to 26%, solar could still generate 25% of New Mexico’s electricity in just over a decade — a goal once thought improbable by many.

Achieving this target, the report said, would cut as much carbon pollution as 900,000 cars emit in a year, and put New Mexico more than halfway to the benchmark set by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s Clean Power Plan, which requires cuts in power plant carbon pollution of 34 percent.

“Accelerating the rate of deployment of PV solar in New Mexico requires energy decision makers to step up, expand the range of deployment options and business models they consider, thereby taking advantage of all the unique economic benefits afforded by PV solar,” said Verne Loose, retired energy economist from Sandia and Los Alamos National Laboratories.

Solar is currently the fastest-growing industry in the country, adding 143,000 jobs nationwide in 2013. According to the latest solar jobs census from the Solar Foundation, the solar industry employed more than 1,900 people in New Mexico in 2013. [FROM WWW.SOLARSTATES.ORG]

“It’s time for New Mexico to cash in. Solar Power has the blessing of the people. Now we require the support of policy makers, utilities and private business owners to propel us to prosperity,” said Julian Singer-Corbin of Positive Energy Solar.

The report quantifies the state’s enormous solar energy potential using data from the National Renewable Energy Laboratory. Already, the state is home to more than 200,000 residential and commercial rooftops that could host solar panels, and it has enough technical potential to meet the state’s energy needs 1,000 times over.

Dozens of New Mexicans attended a release of the report and rallied for solar energy across from the Albuquerque offices of PNM, the state’s largest utility. PNM is set to retire two of its coal units from the San Juan Generating Station and has proposed to use mostly coal, nuclear, and gas to replace the coal power they are retiring. The crowd today showed PNM strong support for solar energy through chanting “PNM, hear us today, solar energy all the way!” New Mexicans are ready for a cleaner future, fueled by renewable energy.

“Getting to 25% solar is the just the first step to a future powered entirely by pollution-free energy,” said Breanna Ryan, “PNM should include more solar in their replacement plan. It’s what New Mexicans want to see and it is a clean investment that will better our communities and environment.”