New Mexico Community Solar 101


New Mexico Community Solar 101

November 30, 2023

New Mexico community solar brings clean energy benefits and electric bill savings to households, businesses, and community organizations across the state.

New Mexico is officially bringing community solar to the state to lower residents’ bills and clean up its grid! The Land of Enchantment is following in the footsteps of 39 other states who have successfully started community solar programs and brought savings to hundreds of thousands of households. 

So, what exactly is community solar? Will YOU specifically benefit from this new program? How can you check, and how much can you save? We answer these questions and more for you below.

Table of Contents

New Mexico Community Solar

New Mexico Community Solar: How It Works

Community solar works by connecting local households and businesses to solar farms that connect to the existing electric grid, allowing folks to go solar without installing their own panels.

Any community solar program involves a few different people and organizations working together to bring savings to households and businesses. 

Here are the people and groups you should know about in New Mexico community solar:

  • New Mexico Government: The New Mexico government has passed legislation to enable and regulate community solar programs in the state. This legislation serves as the foundation for the development and operation of community solar projects. It outlines the rules, incentives, and regulatory framework necessary to support the growth of community solar in New Mexico. 
  • Solar Developers: Solar developers are key players in the community solar world. They are selected through a competitive bidding process managed by the New Mexico Community Solar Program. These developers are responsible for building, operating, and maintaining community solar farms throughout the state.
  • Utilities: While solar developers build and operate community solar farms, utilities play a crucial role in maintaining the electric grid. They work closely with solar developers to ensure that the solar energy generated makes its way onto the existing grid infrastructure. Utilities continue to be responsible for delivering regular electric service and billing to all customers, including those who choose to participate in community solar.
  • Subscriber Management Companies: Companies like Solstice serve as the “middle man” between the community solar programs and potential subscribers. Subscriber management companies help residents understand the benefits of community solar, navigate the sign-up process, and manage their participation in these projects to ensure a smooth customer experience. We provide information about available projects, subscription options, and assist with customer questions and concerns. 

We have a complete guide to community solar, so we’ll give you an overview without getting into the nitty-gritty details. Basically, a developer will construct a solar farm in your area that sends clean solar energy into the local grid. The energy generated by the solar farm combines with other forms of energy, generated from sources like coal plants, and is then used to power homes and businesses.

When a customer subscribes to a solar farm, they are allocated a portion of the farm that matches their energy usage. They then receive solar credits on their monthly electric bills. Customers will receive a solar bill from their community solar provider, like Solstice, that charges them for their solar credits, but at a discounted rate of up to 30% since solar energy is cheaper than other conventional forms of energy. Customers will always pay less for their electricity as a community solar subscriber, guaranteed.  

You may already be wondering “how can I sign up? when will I see savings? when will the farms be built?” Well, the short answer is: true enrollment has not officially begun, but you can get started by joining our pre-enrollment waitlist and be one of the first to know! 

Solstice anticipates that enrollment will begin early next year. With limited projects and subscription spots available, we’ve created a pre-enrollment waitlist to keep our potential customers in-the-loop on their local projects. When enrollment begins, this exclusive list of individuals will have first dibs at claiming their spot on the farm.

New Mexico Community Solar: How does it benefit residents?

There are many ways that residents across the state of New Mexico can benefit from enrolling in a community solar farm. Let’s dig into them!

Community Solar Lowers Electric Costs for New Mexicans 

By enrolling in community solar through Solstice, residents will save up to 30% on their electric costs. There are varying eligibility criteria that determine your savings, and you can easily check your availability for all projects HERE.  This can be especially beneficial in the midst of high inflation and rising cost of living. Plus, savings rates are guaranteed and locked in through your contract with Solstice. The average monthly electric bill for New Mexican households is $75. A 30% discount on electricity costs would result in $270 in annual savings for the average resident. That money is better spent elsewhere – car maintenance, groceries, childcare costs, and so much more. How would you spend an extra $270 a year? 

New Mexico Community Solar Makes Going Green Easy

Unlike rooftop solar, subscribers don’t have to install solar panels on their roof since the solar energy is generated offsite at a solar farm. You can simply sign up online just like you would for a streaming service. This saves households from the hassle of installation as well as the steep upfront costs that come with rooftop solar. Plus, subscribers don’t even need to own their own home! Anyone with a utility bill, including renters, can participate in the program. Community solar brings clean energy access to households that otherwise wouldn’t be able to participate. Everyone deserves to benefit from clean energy and expanding access is crucial to transitioning away from fossil fuels. 

With community solar, there are no upfront fees or hidden costs and subscribers can unsubscribe at any time – again, all online. You can manage your subscription from your home, office, library, or wherever you’re getting your internet. We completely understand that life happens and sometimes a subscriber needs to cancel their subscription. That’s totally fine! We just ask that subscribers give us 90 days notice. 

Community Solar Benefits Low-Income Households and Organizations

New Mexico’s community solar program outlines that 30% of the program is reserved for low-income customers and low-income service organizations to ensure that clean energy benefits are going to the communities that need them the most. Solstice is taking it a step further by enrolling a minimum of 51% low-income households and service organizations in the projects we’re working on because the community members most burdened by high electric bills are the ones who most deserve relief. While proof of eligibility is required to be enrolled as a low-income subscriber, participation in certain programs allows households to pre-qualify. 

These programs include: 

  • Medicaid
  • Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP)
  • Low-Income Home Energy Assistance Program (LIHEAP)
  • First-time homeowner programs and housing rehabilitation programs
  • Living in a low-income/affordable housing facility 
  • State and federal income tax credit programs

If you have any questions about what benefits you’ll qualify for, our enrollment team can answer them!

New Mexico Community Solar: How does it benefit communities?

The positives of community solar don’t just stop with electric bill savings. Let’s zoom out and discuss how community solar can benefit entire communities. 

Community Solar Supports a Cleaner Environment 

New Mexico’s communities have been plagued by low quality air from industrial development for generations. A local community solar farm is both a win for the environment and a win for the community since solar is a form of renewable energy that doesn’t increase air pollution. After spending years fighting polluting companies and poor policies, disadvantaged communities can join the clean energy revolution to support a cleaner future for the generations to come. 

Community Solar Brings Economic Opportunities to Communities 

Solar energy projects will boost New Mexico’s economy by creating more local jobs and bringing other economic opportunities to local businesses. For example, Solstice is hiring community organizers and translators within New Mexico communities to help educate and enroll individuals. In addition to these job opportunities, Solstice has a referral program that businesses, organizations, and municipalities can use to make additional income while also giving the benefits of clean energy to community members. Every person who enrolls in community solar through Solstice gets a $25 enrollment bonus. If a subscriber is enrolled through a referral program, Solstice matches the enrollment bonus for the partner that helped enroll them to fund further sustainability efforts. Installing solar powered street lights, purchasing educational technology for classrooms, and expanding program offerings are just a few of the ways our current partners are using these funds. This is our way of giving back to the community and saying ‘thank you’ for choosing a greener, cleaner future. 

Community Solar Supports Local Resilience 

New Mexico, with its abundant sunshine, is an ideal location for solar energy generation. With clear skies dominating the landscape for most of the year, solar panels can consistently generate electricity, ensuring a reliable and sustainable source of energy for local communities. This reliability is a crucial factor in achieving energy security and reducing dependence on less stable energy sources. Plus, a single solar farm can generate enough energy to power hundreds of homes in a community. This approach not only reduces the carbon footprint but also democratizes access to clean energy, making it accessible to a broader segment of the population.

One of the most remarkable aspects of community solar farms is their ability to contribute clean energy directly to the grid. This local injection of renewable energy not only reduces the reliance on fossil fuels but also strengthens the grid’s overall resilience. In times of peak demand or emergencies, the surplus electricity generated by community solar projects can be redirected to areas in need, preventing blackouts and ensuring that essential services remain operational. Community solar farms are not just an electrical marvel; they are a lifeline for communities looking to modernize their energy infrastructure and enhance local resilience.

New Mexico Community Solar: How does it benefit the state?

New Mexico is emerging as a shining example of how community solar initiatives can positively impact a state’s economy and local job market. Let’s delve into the incredible benefits that community solar brings to the Land of Enchantment.

$517 Million in Economic Benefits

New Mexico’s community solar program is projected to have a significant economic impact. These solar farms are forecasted to generate a staggering $517 million in economic benefits. This financial injection not only boosts local economies but also has a ripple effect on various industries, creating a more vibrant and resilient economic landscape.

3,760 Jobs in 5 Years

In a time when job creation is a top priority, community solar projects in New Mexico are stepping up to the plate. Over the next five years, they are projected to create a whopping 3,760 jobs. These jobs span a range of skill sets, from solar panel installation to community organizing, providing opportunities for local residents to secure stable employment in the renewable energy sector.

$2.9 Million in Annual Tax Revenues

These projects are anticipated to generate over $2.9 million in annual tax revenues. This revenue is primarily funded by private companies, without the need for increased taxes or state investments. This win-win situation benefits both local governments and private enterprises, reinforcing the sustainability of these solar projects.

County-Wide Benefits

The positive impact of community solar in New Mexico is not limited to a few select regions. Each county in the state stands to gain from these projects. Over a 20-year period, every county is expected to benefit from $15 million in economic output and the creation of 117 new jobs. This equitable distribution of benefits ensures that no community is left behind, promoting inclusive and sustainable growth.

As we’ve explored the remarkable benefits of community solar in New Mexico, it’s clear that this renewable energy solution is not only transforming the state’s energy landscape but also creating economic opportunities and resilience for individuals, communities, and the state. The most exciting part is that you can be a part of this clean energy revolution right now. If you’re a resident of New Mexico, you have the opportunity to reserve your spot on our waitlist for local solar projects that bring clean, affordable energy within reach of your community. So, what are you waiting for? Join us in embracing a brighter, more sustainable future for New Mexico.

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