An energy trade group is questioning New Mexico Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham’s commitment to her own push for renewable energy.
A blog post by Power the Future states that the governor “wants every New Mexican to live under a renewable energy mandate … as long as she doesn’t have to do it herself.”
Lujan Grisham in March 2019 signed into law a bill called the Energy Transition Act, which the media dubbed a “mini” Green New Deal.
The legislation requires the state’s utilities to be completely carbon-free by 2045 and also mandated that customers receive 20 percent of their energy from renewables by Jan. 1, 2020.
To prove its point, Power the Future filed a freedom of information request asking for utility bills for state-owned buildings, including the governor’s residence. They found that for August, Lujan Grisham’s taxpayer-funded home received just 13.7 percent of its power from renewable energy.
“If the governor wanted to lead by example, she has the opportunity to do so,” said Larry Behrens, Western States Director for Power the Future. “But she wants to live differently than how she tells the rest of the state to live.”
In April 2019, New Mexico announced it would spend $32 million to install photovoltaic solar panels on 29 government buildings in the capital of Santa Fe. They are the only buildings out of 800 that the state both owns and pays utility costs.
At the time, Natural Resources Secretary Sarah Cottrell Propst said in a statement that installing the solar panels “is an excellent way to promote sustainability while leading by example.”
“They’re very proud that they spent millions of dollars to outfit these buildings, but the governor has excluded her own residence,” Behrens said.
Behrens added that not only is the governor’s residence not meeting the 20 percent renewable energy mandate, but energy use appears to be going up there. The bill for August 2020 was $2,519.02, compared to $1,766.63 in August 2019.
“This all comes at a time when the governor is leading New Mexico to one of the highest unemployment rates in the country with the fewest energy jobs in more than a decade,” Behrens said.
When the Energy Transition Act was signed last year, PNM Resources, the state’s largest utility provider, said it would lower customers’ bills by $3 to $4 a month.
“They started off saying that, then started talking about bills going down but maybe not by that much,” Behrens said. “Now the talk is that bills might go up, but they say not by as much if these steps hadn’t been taken.”
Lujan Grisham’s media office did not respond to a request for comment.
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