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New Energy Policy Boosts Efficiency Funding by 67 Percent in New Mexico

New energy policy boosts efficiency funding by 67 percent

Gov. signed bill on Wednesday

For Immediate Release — April 4, 2019

Isabel Harrison: 703-717-5501, Isabel@dgardiner.com
Helen Booth-Tobin, Ceres: 617-247-0700 ext. 214, booth-tobin@ceres.org

Electricity customers in New Mexico will receive more rebates and services to replace old air conditioners, swap out inefficient water heaters, upgrade lighting, patch air leaks and otherwise cut energy waste.

House Bill 291, which Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham signed yesterday, boosts funding for energy efficiency by up to 67 percent. The money goes to programs designed to help ratepayers save money.

Over the last decade, efficiency programs for the Public Service Company of New Mexico, El Paso Electric and Xcel Energy reduced electricity demand by 7 percent, saving ratepayers $400 million, according to the Southwest Energy Efficiency Project.

Supporters of efficiency say the new policy will save ratepayers even more, because the cheapest power plant is the one you never have to build. Efficiency programs reduce how much electricity customers’ collectively use. As a result, utility companies can avoid building as many new power plants, which cost ratepayers billions.

House Bill 291 also changes how New Mexico’s utility companies make money. Under the old policy, utility companies made money based on how much electricity customers used. Such a policy, critics said, financially incentivized utilities to spur customers to use as much electricity as possible

But the new house bill establishes a policy known as decoupling. With decoupling, utility companies are paid based on factors other than electricity use, such as customer satisfaction and retention. As a result, customers and utility companies can now all be incentivized to reduce electricity waste together.

In addition to saving money, the expansion of efficiency programs will reduce pollution, because New Mexico’s utility companies won’t have to generate as much electricity by burning fossil fuels, supporters of the new policy said.

Supporters also said the expansion of efficiency will create local jobs as workers help homeowners and businesses program thermostats, install new refrigerators and take other steps to cut electricity waste.

 

Advocates for energy efficiency released the following statements about House Bill 291

Representative Andrea Romero, D-Santa Fe, co-sponsor of House Bill 291: “This bill means cleaner air to breathe, more money for our families, and a stronger economy.”

Tammy Fiebelkorn, New Mexico Representative, Southwest Energy Efficiency Project: “Energy efficiency creates local jobs in hands-on industries like installation and construction. These jobs pay well, cannot be easily outsourced, and they are fulfilling because customers save money. Efficiency in New Mexico has already created more than 5,000 jobs, and this bill will create even more.”

David Gardiner, Executive Director at the Alliance for Industrial Efficiency, a coalition of business, labor, nonprofit and educational institutions that are committed to enhancing manufacturing competitiveness and reducing emissions through industrial energy efficiency: “We strongly support this legislation to expand New Mexico’s energy efficiency programs because they help New Mexico’s manufacturers meet their clean energy goals, cut their costs and emissions, and become more competitive. Our analysis shows industrial efficiency and combined heat and power would save New Mexico businesses more than $1.4 billion and reduce annual carbon emissions by more than 1 million tons in 2030.”

Anne L. Kelly, Vice President of Government Relations at Ceres, a sustainability nonprofit organization working with influential investors and companies: “Major employers in New Mexico and nationwide are making investments in energy efficiency because it makes business sense – it helps cut operating costs and frees up capital that can be reinvested into their operations and employees. Efficiency has proven benefits for New Mexico companies and residents alike, and with this legislation we have only begun to scratch the surface of what it can do.”

Jessica Wolff, U.S. Director of Climate and Health at Health Care Without Harm: “Air pollution is the leading environmental threat to human health, and the burning of fossil fuels is the primary source of the pollutants. By investing in energy efficiency, we reduce air pollution, slow climate change, and save money, protecting the health and wealth of New Mexicans.”

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