City Councilor Pat Davis on financing solar power projects for City of Albuquerque with Clean Renewable Energy Bonds.
As New Mexico’s biggest city, Albuquerque should be leading by example on clean, renewable energy, but when I took office, Albuquerque was producing less than three percent of its energy from renewables. I wanted to change that, so along with Councilor Isaac Benton, I sponsored a resolution calling for 25 percent of our energy to come from solar by 2025.
Along the way, we worked with advocates and experts in many fields to figure out how to make that a reality. Soon we will begin constructing the first phase of making that goal a reality by installing $25 million of solar on over 30 city buildings.
What tools, resources or financing did you use to establish your project?
In order to fund this project, the City of Albuquerque applied for New Clean Renewable Energy Bonds (NCREBS) to secure a lower interest rate on $25 million of New Mexico Energy Savings/Municipal Infrastructure Gross Receipts Tax Revenue Bonds. The energy savings created by the project will cover the bond payments.
In order to come up with a list of possible sites and the associated savings, we utilized the expertise of local solar companies.
I am very grateful for the support of U.S. Senator Martin Heinrich who took a personal interest in this project. As a former city councilor, he knows what it means to have a partner in D.C. to help get projects like this done.
What benefits have you realized?
This first phase of this project will replace about ten percent of Albuquerque’s energy use with solar energy. This phase will create nearly 150 local jobs and save the city over $30 million over 30 years. It will also result in the first fully renewable rapid transit system as we use solar to recharge our new electric Albuquerque Rapid Transit buses.
What challenges did you overcome to implement your project?
When we first introduced our resolution to call for 25 percent solar by 2025, some questioned if it was even possible for the City to hit this goal. I took on the challenge and initiated a fiscal impact assessment that showed not only could we do it, but we will save the City millions by doing so.
What advice would you give neighboring communities who are trying to implement a similar project?
Transitioning to clean, renewable energy just makes sense for our environment, our economy, our families, and our future. Start now, big or small, and put our local folks to work in good, local jobs, save your municipality money, and stop polluting our skies.