Richardson signs renewable energy
Mar 6, 2007 - Deborah Baker - The Associated
Sunny, windy New Mexico is the "clean energy state,"
Gov. Bill Richardson said Monday as he signed into
law two measures that encourage the production of
electricity from renewable sources.
The bills quadruple the use of clean electricity
by 2020 and establish a Renewable Energy Transmission
Authority to help export solar, wind and other renewable
The legislation "shows the nation that states move
forward while the Congress is in gridlock and the
Bush administration is just a spectator," said Richardson,
who is campaigning for the Democratic presidential
nomination in 2008 and was just back from Iowa.
The new laws will be effective July 1.
Under current law, 5 percent of the electricity
from the state's three large investor-owned utilities
must come from renewable sources, and that goes
to 10 percent by 2011. The new law requires 15 percent
from renewable sources by 2015, and 20 percent by
The measure also brings rural electric cooperatives
under the mandate, with 10 percent of their electricity
required to come from renewable sources by 2020.
The governor said the legislation will not only
reduce greenhouse gases but create jobs - in solar
technology, for example - and help ranchers who
want to diversify into the wind energy market.
It's a way for New Mexico to use natural resources
that residents take for granted, especially those
on the windswept eastern plains, said Rep. Jose
Campos, D-Santa Rosa.
"There's some reason that all the trees bend eastward,"
said Campos, sponsor of the transmission authority
The Renewable Energy Transmission Authority - the
first of its kind in the nation, according to the
Richardson administration - is described as key
to developing a renewable energy generation and
The quasi-government authority could plan, finance,
build and operate electric transmission lines and
power storage facilities.
Energy, Minerals and Natural Resources Secretary
Joanna Prukop said the authority would look at ways
to plug gaps in New Mexico's power grid to ensure
the transmission of clean energy around the state.
It also would provide a way to tap into regional
transmission systems that could move electricity
from generation projects - such as wind farms in
New Mexico - to growing power markets in the West,
such as California.
The authority could issue tax-free bonds to provide
low-cost financing for projects. It could charge
companies to use transmission facilities it owns
The authority's transmission facilities would be
able to move electricity generated by any fuel source
- including coal-fired plants - but at least 30
percent of it would have to be from renewable sources,
including wind, solar, hydropower, biomass or fuel
The authority would have a seven-member board,
with three members appointed by the governor and
two by legislative leaders, along with the state
treasurer and state investment officer. ___
The transmission authority bill is HB188.
The renewable energy measure is SB418.
On the Net: New Mexico Legislature: http://www.legis.state.nm.us