New Mexico forgoes green bonds on energy efficiency projects

August 30, 2019 GMT

SANTA FE, N.M. (AP) — New Mexico has decided against green-bond financing that has the potential to attract socially conscious investors as it forges ahead this month with energy efficiency improvements to a fleet of state buildings in Santa Fe.

The New Mexico Finance Authority that oversees a revolving infrastructure loan fund for public projects found few prospects for savings on borrowing costs on the Santa Fe project after studying the bond market for financing environmentally minded projects.

Separately bundled “green” bonds for the Santa Fe energy efficiency project would have been too small of an offering to attract competition from investors and future savings on interest, according to officials at the finance authority. Tax-exempt bonds without green certification were sold in June.


Installation of solar window film began this month in the first phase of renovations that include LED lighting, new heating and cooling equipment and controls, the addition of solar panels, electrical storage devices, new electrical transformers and other efficiency measures.

The General Services Department expects to reduce utility costs by 50% at about 30 revamped buildings and save $1.1 million annually under a guarantee with a general contractor.

The roughly $12 million construction project is dwarfed by broader infrastructure spending of more than $900 million authorized by lawmakers earlier this year amid a budget surplus.

Larry Behrens, western states director at an advocacy group for plentiful and inexpensive energy supplies called Power the Future, said the decision against green bonds speaks of broken promises. Power the Future does not disclose its financial contributors.

“In my mind they make these promises for these green deals, and they don’t add up once they do the math,” he said. “They realize they can’t afford it.”

Marketing the authority’s June infrastructure bonds as “green” would have required two separate and smaller offerings, possibly causing investors to pass and drive up interest rate costs, according to an email from Michael Zavelle, chief financial strategist for the finance authority, to colleagues obtained by The Associated Press.

Efforts to reduce energy consumption by state buildings are part of an emerging climate change strategy from first-year Democratic Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham.

Lujan Grisham has vowed to make renewable energy investments and policies that address climate change a hallmark of her administration, while endorsing goals of the 2015 Paris climate agreement to limit global warming.