New Mexico Laws Support Jobs, Renewable Energy
New Mexico Gov. Bill Richardson recently signed a package of bills, including the following:
- The Green Jobs Bonding Act, which allows the state to take advantage of green jobs training money available under the federal Green Jobs Act of 2007. Funding will be targeted for training low-income individuals, veterans, tribal and rural constituencies, and other citizens. The bill also requires the Higher Education Department and the Public Education Department to develop a state plan for green jobs training programs.
- The Development Training Funds for Green Jobs allows up to $1 million each year to be disbursed from the state's Job Training Incentive Program for development training in green industries. This will be a useful tool in recruiting clean technology companies.
- The Renewable Energy Tax Credit expands the Advanced Energy Tax Credit, which was enacted in 2007, to include utility-scale solar photovoltaic and geothermal technologies.
- The Solar Market Tax Development Credit allows the state's Solar Market Development Tax Credit to piggyback on federal solar credits.
Certain Geothermal Heat Pump Tax Credits provide a tax credit for the purchase and installation of a ground-coupled heat pump for a home, business, or agricultural enterprise. The tax credit will help with the deployment of these climate-friendly systems.
- Solar Energy Improvement Special Assessments allows counties to impose solar energy improvement special assessments on single-family residential or commercial property if the property owner requests it. The bill is modeled on successful initiatives in Colorado and California, and the program is voluntary. The voluntary assessment will be collected at the same time and manner as all other property taxes, and will improve access to up-front financing.
- Renewable Energy Financing District Act allows counties and municipalities to form renewable energy financing districts to help fund renewable energy improvements. This includes solar photovoltaic, solar thermal, geothermal, or wind energy. Participating property owners in a district will have a special assessment placed on their property. The district may then use that revenue to secure bonds that pay for the costs of the improvements, including bond issuance, debt service, and administrative fees. Most importantly, the bill allows local governments to obtain the low-interest bonds offered as part of the federal stimulus package.