- Associated Press - Tuesday, February 28, 2017

SANTA FE, N.M. (AP) - The Latest on renewable energy initiatives in the New Mexico Legislature (all times local):

8:10 p.m.

The New Mexico House of Representatives has approved new disclosure requirements for providers of rooftop solar energy systems and related financing agreements.

The House voted 56-6 on Tuesday on the bill from Democrat Rep. Debbie Rodella of Espanola. The Senate has approved a similar bill, with concurring votes pending.

Early versions of the bills were criticized by environmental groups as veiled efforts to discourage investments in rooftop solar. Most objections were dropped after amendments.

Contracts with solar providers would be accompanied by a four page disclosure form that describes how estimated energy savings are calculated and might change with future changes to subsidies or utility rates. The form will be developed by the New Mexico Attorney General’s Office and include information about performance guarantees, tax benefits, warrantees and maintenance requirements.

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11:20 a.m.

New Mexico lawmakers have advanced a proposal to increase renewable energy quotas for major electricity retailers and to allow cooperative solar projects for apartment dwellers and home renters.

On a party-line vote, Democrats on the Senate Conservation Committee on Tuesday endorsed a proposal to increase by more than four-fold the amount of renewable energy from sources such as wind and solar that utilities would have to provide their customers by the year 2040.

The state’s three major investor owned utilities and most electric cooperatives oppose the legislation and are raising concerns about ensuring the reliability of electricity supplies as they add solar and wind generators that fluctuate with the weather.

Environmental groups and solar providers including California-based SolarCity support the proposal to increase the share of renewable energy in local power supplies to 80 percent by 2040 for most utilities, and to 70 percent for cooperatives.

Separately, a House panel endorsed a plan to allow shared “solar gardens” designed to provide the benefits of rooftop solar to New Mexico residents who rent housing or cannot otherwise install their own solar panels.

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3:00 a.m.

A legislative initiative that could spur the installation of solar panels on New Mexico state buildings has been approved by the state Senate.

The Senate on Monday voted 36-4 to direct the state General Services Department to pursue contracts with solar providers that save the state money on electricity costs over time with no up-front public investment.

The bill also opens the way for contracts that generate electricity with wind turbines or use the sun to heat water.

Democratic Sen. Jeff Steinborn of Las Cruces is sponsoring the legislation in an effort to create jobs and increase investment in the solar industry.

The General Services Department has voiced concerns that developing renewable-energy contract guidelines will put a strain on its administrative staff and construction project managers. It oversees 750 buildings.

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