New Mexico governor signs solar energy, grid update bills

SANTA FE, N.M. (AP) — New Mexico will reinstate a tax credit for households and businesses that adopt solar energy systems and take new steps to modernize the electric grid and export more renewable energy under bills signed Tuesday by the governor.

Democratic Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham signed legislation that revives a state income tax credit of up to $6,000 for the installation of solar panels or thermal solar equipment that heats water. The state will forgo up to $8 million in taxes a year to offset the investments.

Lujan Grisham endorsed a bipartisan grid modernization bill that opens the door for new infrastructure investments by utilities, with customer rate increases vetted by the state Public Regulation Commission.

That bill commissions a grid modernization plan from state energy officials and establishes a grant program for non-utility projects that help improve grid resiliency and expedite the state’s transition toward carbon-free electricity.

Another bill will eliminate some local taxes on utility-scale electrical transmission projects through the use of industrial revenue bonds, with an eye toward opening up new terrain for wind and solar development. State government offsets some of the tax breaks with payments to school districts under the new law.

In a statement, Lujan Grisham praised lawmakers for providing new tools to address climate change by modernizing the electricity sector.

She and the Democrat-led Legislature enacted reforms last year that set aggressive new deadlines for increasing reliance on renewable energy and provides financing to phase out a major coal-fired power plant in northwestern New Mexico.

A bill that would have provided a tax credit toward the purchase or lease of plug-in electric and plug-in hybrid vehicles stalled in the Legislature during its annual session that ended Feb. 20.