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City Announces $25M Solar Project to Increase Solar and Grow Local Jobs

City Councilors Pat Davis and Isaac Benton announce first phase of solar projects on City buildings

Today Albuquerque City Councilors Pat Davis and Isaac Benton announced the City is taking the first steps to install over $25 million of solar projects on City buildings. This will be the first phase in fulfilling the recently set Council goal of generating 25% of the City’s energy use from solar.

They were joined at the event by U.S. Senator Martin Heinrich, who worked with Councilor Davis to secure federal Clean Renewable Energy Bonds (CREBs) assisting the city in creating up to $51m in solar installations. The project will be financed through the energy savings and federal bond credits, allowing the project to be built at no cost to taxpayers.

The first phase of the project is expected to create 135 jobs here in Albuquerque and save taxpayers over $20m over 30 years.

“I am proud to secure these bonds to help the City of Albuquerque install dozens of new solar projects on city facilities,” said Heinrich. “These projects will save taxpayers’ money and help fuel our state’s growing solar industry. New Mexico added over 1,000 new solar jobs in 2016 alone. With our wind and solar resources, the Land of Enchantment can and should be the epicenter of the United States clean energy economy. If we make the right decisions now, we can create thousands of good-paying clean energy jobs in Albuquerque and throughout New Mexico.”

“Producing our own energy through solar makes sense for the City,” said Davis. “It makes sense for our environment and our economy. I’m proud to say we are making Albuquerque a cleaner, greener city, while also creating over 100 local jobs and saving tax payers millions on our electricity bill. I’m proud to be leading a project that will make Albuquerque a solar leader and an example for the rest of the country.”

In September of 2016 the City Council of Albuquerque unanimously passed a resolution calling for the City of Albuquerque to generate 25% of its energy from solar by 2025. The resolution was championed by local environmental organizations including Environment New Mexico, 350.org, the Union of Concerned Scientists, and New Mexico Interfaith Power & Light. Currently the City generates about 3% of its energy from solar; this project will move the City a long ways towards its goal.

“Since the 1970’s New Mexico has been a leader and innovator in solar technology, providing thousands of lifetime careers,” said City Council President Isaac Benton. “Increasing our investment in clean energy now will add to a new generation of similar careers while protecting our environment.”

A new report released at the event by Environment New Mexico Research & Policy Center’s report called “Shining Cities” and ranks Albuquerque ninth amongst American cities based on the amount of solar energy installed, with 82 MW providing clean energy in the city at the end of 2016. 

"I was proud to work with Councilors Davis and Benton to advance solar energy in Albuquerque. As the state's largest city, Albuquerque can lead the transition to a renewable energy future," said Sanders Moore, director of Environment New Mexico. "Albuquerque is on the leadership board, but should be even higher. We look forward to the Duke City improving its position on the solar energy leader list next year."

There are 102 solar companies in New Mexico employing 2,929 individuals. Solar energy is one of the fastest growing job markets in the United States. In recognition that these jobs would require specialized skills, several years ago CNM created a special photovoltaic training program within their School of Applied Technologies that trains students how to design and install solar energy systems.

“CNM is committed to developing a workforce with strong technical skills in the areas of solar energy, both photovoltaic and solar thermal,” said CNM Dean of Applied Sciences John Bronisz We are pleased to see the continued expansion of solar energy jobs here in the Metro area, facilitated by the CREBs and the City’s commitment to a renewable energy future, and are proud to be a part of this effort.”

The first phase of the project the project is slated to begin late this year and finish within 2 years.