Clean Renewable Energy
Greenhouse Gas Emissions
Concentrated Solar Panels
Fossil fuel power plants are one of the largest emitters of GHG. Two ways to reduce emissions: through efficiency to reduce demand and through development of clean, renewable forms of energy.
- PNM, an investor-owned utility company, supplies electricity to Santa Fe in accordance with the rules set out by the New Mexico Public Regulation Commission (PRC).
- PRC sets the rates that PNM can charge and requires PNM to meet certain business goals including providing a mix of renewable energy sources within its portfolio and providing programs to reduce energy demand through efficiency programs.
- The PRC and PNM are subject to federal energy laws administered by the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC). These laws include a requirement that the capacity of the utility be sufficient such that the peak load on their system not exceed 75% of their capacity.
- The peak load drives the demand for new power sources. This peak typically only occurs 100 hours per year, between June and September, between 2 p.m. and 8 p.m. The extent to which we can reduce energy demand during these hours will help reduce the likelihood of new non-sustainable power plant construction until clean, renewable sources can be developed.
- Low income people are particularly at risk as energy prices increase. Any plan must provide a safety net for low-income people to have access to energy at rates they can afford.
- The State of New Mexico now offers income and sales tax incentives to residents who install solar, and the PRC allows residents to feed their renewable power back into the grid for retail credit.
Actions Included in the Plan
This plan calls for avoiding use of nuclear power. Nuclear power, emits less greenhouse gas than coal-fired plants, but creates issues of social justice from uranium extraction, has long term environmental impacts associated with the storage of spent fuels, is not economically viable without extensive government subsidies, and spent fuel can be proliferated for nuclear weapons.
- Reduce Santa Fe’s demand for energy through efficiency
- Reduce energy demand during peak hours.
- Conduct an energy audit which tracks uses of energy by time of day and time of year. Identify those demands that coincide with PNM’s peak hours (June to September, 2 p.m. to 8 p.m.) and explore options for reducing those peaks.
- Conduct community outreach, such as informational campaigns and “give-aways” of things like compact fluorescent light bulbs and other energy or water saving devices (water pumping requires a lot of energy so water savings also reduces energy demand). This could be done through a new efficiency utility.
- Encourage more renewable energy and distributed generation, including concentrated solar, photovoltaic systems (PV), wind power, microturbines and cogeneration, and possibly larger distributed generation and energy storage projects that could be used to “firm” renewables and lower the need for new power plants and power lines.
- Provide assistance to individuals and local businesses to understand any existing incentives to installing distributed generation within the City and guide them through the process including any forms or contacts with state offices that are needed.
- Add a solar rights ordinance to the City’s Development Code (Chapter 14) to ensure that investments in solar technology, both passive and active, are protected and are easily defended. (Current state law requires people to register their solar right with the county and they then must sue a neighbor that violates that right through the civil court system)
- Develop programs to help people install renewable energy systems.
- Implement a loan program that would provide residents with low interest loans to facilitate the purchase of renewable energy sources and energy equipment and energy efficiency upgrades for buildings.
- Examine how the City gets its energy and consider alternatives that would reduce dependence on fossil or nuclear fuels to a much greater amount than is currently required by the NM PRC.
- Encourage private or public/private partnerships to develop small-scale renewable energy and distributed generation projects within the City.
- The City could consider entering into power purchase agreements (PPA) in order to purchase renewable energy.
- Consider the development of a regional municipal power utility that could offer efficiency programs and distributed generation, and possibly larger renewable systems, including utilizing more efficient and more ecological High-Voltage DC (HVDC) transmission lines, while still using PNM for base and backup energy supplies, with the goal of avoiding need for new generation and transmission.
- Lobby the state government to pass laws that would allow communities to aggregate their loads and choose their own power suppliers who are providing clean, renewable energy as is being done in California with the Community Choice Aggregation program.
- Ensure that as energy rates rise, the low-income families in the community are not left without the means to pay for basic energy needs.
- Require any utility serving Santa Fe, prior to disconnecting a City resident, to notify the city’s affordable housing office and provide the opportunity to determine if the household meets the criteria that would prevent their utilities from being disconnected.
- If the resident earned too much to qualify but still not enough to pay the bills, the City could identify non-profits or develop a funding source to assist such residents.
- Enhance the State of New Mexico’s program for assisting low-income families with weatherization with complementary programs, including energy-efficiency.
- Establish a minimum weatherization standard that existing structures would be required to meet either at sale and/or by a specific time in the future. Low-income owners and owners that commit to renting to low-income tenants could be provided assistance either from the State or some other mechanism.
- Lobby the State Legislature for increased funding of low-income weatherization programs.
- Investigate alternative low-cost methods of weatherization and efficiency, and promote the preferable methods.