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NM needs to extend the solar tax credit

PNM’s new Santa Fe County Solar Energy Center is located off Interstate 25 south of town. (Courtesy PNM)

PNM’s new Santa Fe County Solar Energy Center is located off Interstate 25 south of town. (Courtesy PNM)

New Mexico is one of the sunniest states in the country and we have an entrepreneurial spirit that can’t be matched. This makes us ripe for innovation and growth in the clean energy sector, but only two percent of our current electricity supply comes from solar, leaving immense potential for expansion still on the table. That’s why now is the time to extend the state solar tax credit to all New Mexicans.

Local communities like Santa Fe are proud to be at the forefront of the solar industry’s growth in New Mexico. We have been some of the first to embrace the future of energy, in-state and across the country.

To continue moving forward, we must align state and federal policies with these local priorities. We need to work in concert with state and federal policies – only unity will help us reach New Mexico’s renewable energy portfolio goals by 2020 and Santa Fe’s goal of being carbon neutral by 2040.

Javier Gonzales.

Javier Gonzales.

We are excited about the future of energy because it will help us create more jobs, generate more local investment, and give businesses and working class families more choices, cleaner air, and lower and more predictable electricity prices.

Statewide, the solar energy industry is already providing more jobs for workers and more choices for consumers. Ninety-eight different solar companies employ 1,600 New Mexicans.

This increasingly vibrant industry is supported by the state residential solar tax credit. But that credit is set to expire later this year, just as we are beginning to see its potential impact. Created in 2009, the credit has helped 5,500 families across the state install solar panels, and leveraged nearly $30 million in private investment to create high-paying jobs and build infrastructure, helping New Mexico to generate electricity independently and locally.

Solar jobs are booming nationwide – the Solar Foundation’s National Solar Jobs Census for 2015 found that over 200,000 Americans are now solar workers and solar jobs have grown by 20 percent for three straight years. With one of the worst unemployment rates in the nation, New Mexico must position itself to bring more of these jobs to our state.

As mayors in the Land of Enchantment, we know our residents will benefit from solar growth. We encourage the New Mexico legislature to extend the tax credit so New Mexico can continue to shine.