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Editorial: Albuquerque’s solar plan could power big savings

When you’re the largest city in the second sunniest state in the country, capitalizing on solar energy makes good financial and environmental sense.

So kudos to U.S. Sen. Martin Heinrich and City Councilors Pat Davis and Isaac Benton for promoting both.

On Saturday, the trio of Democrats announced plans to sell $25 million in renewable energy bonds to install solar panels on dozens of city buildings. That is supposed to not only reduce the city’s sizable electric bills and provide renewable energy jobs, it tells the world that Albuquerque is serious about supporting renewable energy, especially solar energy.

Last year, the City Council unanimously passed a resolution calling for the city to derive 25 percent of its energy from solar by 2025. With $25 million worth of solar panels up and running, the city would be about halfway to that goal, Davis said.

According to a recent report by the Frontier Group and the Environment America Research and Policy Center, Albuquerque currently generates the ninth-most solar power of all the major cities in the country, and the fourth-most solar power per capita among cities on the same list.

Sanders Moore, director of the advocacy group Environment New Mexico, says the city currently gets 3 percent of its energy from solar. The message in those statistics is that we’re doing pretty well as a solar-friendly city, but we can do better.

If the City Council OKs issuing the bonds, we should be. And it’s important the city follow the lead of our utility companies by routinely sharing not only how much power its panels generate and how many jobs its project creates, but how much taxpayers pay for their government’s power compared to the same months in prior years.

That will help ensure Albuquerque taxpayers can feel good about the $25 million investment from both an environmental and a fiscal standpoint.

This editorial first appeared in the Albuquerque Journal. It was written by members of the editorial board and is unsigned as it represents the opinion of the newspaper rather than the writers.