- The New Mexico Senate is considering establishing a grant program funded through the state treasurer's office to modernize the electric distribution grid with cybersecurity programs, advanced metering and associated software systems to enhance demand response, energy storage and electric vehicle charging infrastructure.
- House Bill 233, the Energy Grid Modernization Roadmap, passed the lower chamber on a vote of 61-1 and now awaits a vote by the full Senate. If signed by Democratic Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham, the program could go live this summer according to PNM Resources, a subsidiary of the Public Service Company of New Mexico.
- PNM officials say the utility supports the bill and did provide input on its language, but a range of entities could benefit. Grants would be available on a competitive basis to municipalities and county governments, state agencies, state universities, public schools, post-secondary educational institutions, tribes and pueblos.
Grid modernization projects are currently underway in New Mexico, but the state's infrastructure is not getting any younger and PNM officials say the grant fund could help to support initiatives where the utility has struggled with cost recovery.
"The reality is that the energy industry and its infrastructure is aging," PNM said in a statement emailed to Utility Dive. "The energy grid, like anything else, needs technology and infrastructure upgrades to keep pace."
If HB 233 is enacted, the grid modernization fund would be administered by the New Mexico Energy, Minerals and Natural Resources Department. Grant fund disbursements would involve the state's Secretary of Finance and Administration and the Secretary of Energy.
The bill would allow an energy company to submit an application to the New Mexico Public Regulation Commission for grid modernization and allow for cost recovery. Priority would be given to proposals that include the use of matching funds.
State regulators in 2018 rejected PNM's plan to install smart meters. The utility says the grid modernization grant program could help to develop that infrastructure, though PNM would still need commission approval.
"HB 233 gives the commission a set of standards to evaluate a grid modernization project, as well as give the energy company some assurance of cost recovery for approved projects," the utility said.
Despite the 2018 smart metering setback, PNM does have grid modernization projects currently underway. The utility says those upgrades will be necessary to achieve a zero-carbon future for the state by 2050, as required by the clean energy standard lawmakers passed last year.
"This monumental goal drives PNM to take action and upgrade the energy system," the utility said. "A number of our initiatives apply modern technology that increases grid stability, security and customer reliability."