Utility Scale Renewable Energy Policy Landscape in New Mexico

December 2020
Amanda Farthing*, Matilda Kreider*, Bhavesh Rathod*, University of Michigan

In wind and solar resource potential, New Mexico is among the most endowed of the 50 states. While the state’s electricity sector has historically been dominated by coal, the passage of New Mexico’s first Renewable Portfolio Standard (RPS) in 2000, along with other increasingly supportive policies and plummeting renewable energy prices, has resulted in rapid growth in utility-scale renewable (primarily wind) development over the past two decades. The state continues to be progressive in its efforts to transition away from coal while supporting the communities that rely heavily on the industry for economic stability. Looking forward, a strong relationship with tribal communities, utilization of public lands, replacing oil and natural gas as a primary economic driver, and overcoming transmission constraints will be key to New Mexico’s renewable energy transition. This report focuses on state-level policies in New Mexico that impact solar and wind development within the state. While the primary focus is on utility-scale renewables, distributed-scale policies are discussed at a high level as well. We first set the stage with the state’s demographic, economic, and political background, as well as an overview of the electricity sector and dominant perceptions of renewable energy across New Mexico. We then analyze distinct policy areas related to renewable energy deployment and conclude with commentary on the synergies and gaps in existing policies.