Community Solar Act of 2021
On April 5, 2021, Governor Michelle Lujan Grisham signed the Community Solar Act into law which became effective on June 18, 2021. This Act requires the NM Public Regulation Commission to adopt rules to establish a community solar program no later than April 1, 2022. In essence, the community solar program is still under development. This new law includes an “opt-in” provision for rural electric cooperatives which means that a rural electric cooperative is not required to participate BUT may “opt-in” to a specific project should the associated board of trustees chooses to. In RCEC’s case, this would require that our wholesale energy provider, Western Farmers Electric Cooperative, Inc. (WFEC) wishes to participate because we are legally obligated to purchase all of our generation from them. RCEC is able to engage in small solar or small wind projects that are “behind the meter” resources but is still required to report these to WFEC. These behind the meter projects are monitored through a net-metering process.
RCEC has received numerous calls and visits from members who have been approached by solar entities wishing to engage in solar projects that would be designed to attach to our electrical infrastructure. Many of the calls we’ve received include the desire of the solar entity to utilize 40 acres of land which is typical for about a 5MW installation of solar generation equipment. 5MW, as most of these solar entities know already, is the maximum size under the Community Solar Act on a per project basis. Unfortunately, RCEC will not be able to entertain any of these community solar projects without the consent of WFEC.
Any members wishing to visit with WFEC on the potential for one of these projects can contact Dave Sonntag, Vice-President of Special Projects at (405) 759-2856.