New Mexico legislator introduces clean electricity bill to expand on Energy Transition Act

Western Resource Advocates and Natural Resources Defense Council welcomed New Mexico Rep. Nathan Small’s introduction of the Clean Electrification Act (CEA), HB 137. The bill will help the state expand and build a more diverse economy that realizes the opportunities and full potential of carbon-free energy.

The bill, if passed and signed by Governor Michelle Lujan Grisham, will bolster and diversify New Mexico’s economy, capitalize on New Mexico’s abundance of carbon-free energy, provide a robust New Mexico response to the threat of climate change, and help bring electricity service to low income and indigenous households that now lack lights and power.

“The Clean Electrification Act means New Mexicans will enjoy the benefits of our changing energy landscape,” said Representative Small. “We build on the foundation laid by the Energy Transition Act with a two-pronged approach of electrifying homes, businesses, and industry, while at the same time ensuring the electricity serving those new loads remains clean and emission-free.”

Under the CEA, New Mexico’s utilities and co-ops would work with their customers to shift New Mexico’s energy consumption from fossil fuels to clean and renewable electricity. To ensure this electrification does not increase emissions, the bill sets a specific path for electric utilities and cooperatives to reach zero emissions by mid-century. It does so by locking in a firm, steady emission reduction path of roughly 4% per year to reach the Energy Transition Act’s full decarbonization requirement. The CEA uses a credit system, much like New Mexico’s Renewable Energy Act, to drive adoption of cleaner electricity over time.

“One of the key features of this proposed law is its focus on electrifying parts of our economy that currently rely on burning fossil fuels,” said Noah Long, Natural Resources Defense Council’s Western region climate and clean energy director. “If we can use clean, affordable, zero-emission electricity to heat our homes and power businesses and industry, we can make huge and important strides to reduce our reliance on fossil fuels and address the threat of climate change. This bill will provide a clear framework for the investments needed to move swiftly in that direction.”

“This bill provides New Mexico with an important and secure path to decarbonize its economy,” said Steve Michel, deputy director of Western Resource Advocates’ Clean Energy Program. “Combustion methods for producing electricity often emit a variety of harmful pollutants beyond carbon dioxide, such as mercury, sulfur dioxide, nitrogen oxide and particulates. Because of that, and because carbon dioxide is a byproduct of combustion, this bill will have the additional benefit of reducing other pollutants that adversely affect the health, safety and environment of New Mexicans.”

Importantly, the bill calls for New Mexico’s utilities and co-ops to specifically reduce their tons of emissions. This means that as utility loads grow to electrify our economy, emissions are not allowed to increase proportionately. The bill also incentivizes providing electric service to low-income and indigenous households that now lack electricity.

“I am very excited about this bill,” said Representative Small. “We recognize New Mexico’s future as a renewable and clean energy powerhouse, ensuring we enjoy the benefits of a safer climate and capitalize on the economic benefits that our natural resources and commitment to innovation provide us.”

News item from Western Resource Advocates