- A key legislative committee in the New Mexico House of Representatives approved a bill on Monday that would extend state tax incentives for residential solar systems, the Santa Fe New Mexican reports. Without the extension, the tax credits would expire at the end of this year.
- If passed by the full House and state Senate, the bill would extend tax credits, good for 10% of the cost of residential solar installations, through 2024. Renewable energy advocates credit the state tax incentives for helping drive an 81% growth in the New Mexico solar sector from 2010 to 2013.
- Political opponents say the cost of the rebate, in place since 2006, is unfairly shifted to non-solar owners. Gov. Susana Martinez (R) blocked a similar solar incentive bill last year with a pocket veto.
HB 26 passed the New Mexico House Energy, Environment and Natural Resources Committee by a 7-4 vote on Monday. The bill would provide a rebate for 10% of the cost of residential solar installation until 2019. After that year, the amount of the tax credit would drop 1% annually to 2024. The rebate to any individual would be capped at $9,000 and the total program has a cap of $5 million per year.
The Sierra Club, the League of Women Voters, and the New Mexico Home Builders Association are among ten citizens groups supporting the bill.
But the law is “Robin Hood in reverse,” according to Republican Representative Larry Scott, because it pays for solar for the “more affluent” by imposing costs on “those less affluent.” Bill supporters, by contrast, pointed out during committee debates that the rebates go predominantly to those earning between $40,000 and $90,000 annually.
Leading U.S. residential rooftop solar installer SolarCity opened an operations center in Albuquerque, the state's largest city, last year. The solar sector has added an average investment in the state of $38 million per year since 2010 and now provides more than 1,600 New Mexican jobs, according to the industry.