Albuquerque City Councilors Pat Davis (D-District 6) and Isaac Benton (Nonpartisan–District 2) announced on April 14 that the city –the largest in New Mexico, with a population of over 500,000 – has begun the process of deploying over $25 million worth of solar projects on the rooftops of municipal buildings.
This initiative represents the first phase in fulfilling the goal set by the council in September 2016 to generate 25 percent of the city’s energy use from solar by 2025. The resolution was championed by local environmental organizations, including Environment New Mexico, 350.org, the Union of Concerned Scientists, and New Mexico Interfaith Power and Light. Currently, the city generates about 3 percent of its energy from solar; this project will move the Albuquerque a long ways toward its goal.
U.S. Senator Martin Heinrich (D) joined Davis and Benton at the press event. He had worked with Davis to secure federal Clean Renewable Energy Bonds (CREBs) to support the project. The combination of the bonds and the energy savings realized by going solar will fund the initiative in its entirety – allowing it to go forward at no cost to taxpayers.
The first phase of the project is expected to create 135 jobs in Albuquerque and to save taxpayers over $20 million over 30 years.
“I am proud to secure these bonds to help the City of Albuquerque install dozens of new solar projects on city facilities,” said Heinrich. “These projects will save taxpayers’ money and help fuel our state’s growing solar industry. New Mexico added over 1,000 new solar jobs in 2016 alone…. If we make the right decisions now, we can create thousands of good-paying clean energy jobs in Albuquerque and throughout New Mexico.”
A new report released at the event by Environment New Mexico Research & Policy Center, called “Shining Cities,” ranks Albuquerque ninth amongst American cities based on the amount of solar energy installed, with 82 MW of clean energy generated citywide at the end of 2016.