Renewable Portfolio Standards – New Mexico

Date: 20 Jan 2009 | posted in: Energy | 0 Facebooktwittergoogle_plusredditpinterestmail


Senate Bill 418 was signed into law in March 2007 and added new requirements to the state’s Renewable Portfolio Standard, which formerly required utilities to get 10 percent of their electricity needs by 2011 from renewables. Under the new law, regulated electric utilities must have renewables meet 15 percent of their electricity needs by 2015 and 20 percent by 2020. Rural electric cooperatives must have renewable energy for 5 percent of their electricity needs by 2015, increasing to 10 percent by 2020. Renewable energy can come from new hydropower facilities, from fuel cells that are not fossil-fueled, and from biomass, solar, wind, and geothermal resources.

In early March 2004, New Mexico Governor Bill Richardson signed into law a measure (SB 43) that requires investor-owned electric utilities to produce or buy increasing amounts of renewable energy. According to the new law, renewables must make up 5 percent of the utilities’ sales by 2006, and 10 percent by the year 2011. The renewable energy measure puts into statute a Public Regulation Commission (PRC) rule that took effect last year. The law left a tiny hole that would allow utilities to ignore the new law through a provision for a PRC-established"reasonable cost threshold" beyond which a utility would not be required to add renewable energy to its energy supply portfolio.

Renewableenergy is defined as electric energy generated from resources such as solar, wind, hydropower, geothermal or biomass, but does not include fossil fuel or nuclear energy. The “reasonable cost threshold,” is to be established by the PRC through hearings and research, by December 31, 2004. According to the Energy, Minerals and Natural Resources Department, studies have indicated that, while a “renewable portfolio standard” may slightly negatively impact electric rates in the short term (i.e. up to 10 years), its long-term impact will help to stabilize electric rates by diversifying the supply mix and, in effect, serve as a substitute for natural gas-fired electric power production.