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Community Solar Gardens Act Puts Community In Charge Of Energy Choices

By March 2, 2017Juntos, Climate & Energy
Published in the Los Alamos Daily Post
ALBUQUERQUE―The Community Solar Gardens Act (HB 338, Roybal Caballero) passed in the House State Government, Indian and Veterans Affairs Committee in the New Mexico Legislature Tuesday on a 5-4 vote.
In response, Conservation Voters New Mexico Education Fund (CVNMEF) program Juntos: Our Air, Our Water community leaders released the following statements:
“Where I live there are many people with asthma. Solar energy would help reduce air pollution and improve the health of families in my neighborhood,” said Victor Nevarez, Juntos Westgate youth leader.
“We need healthy families and we also need to reduce monthly households costs. Community solar would be better for Latino families in the South Valley like mine,” said Martha Favela, South Valley mother leader and Juntos Mother Organizer.
The Community Solar Gardens (CSG) Act enable utility customers who are renters, who do not have suitable locations, or are prevented from installing roof-top solar for other reasons to have equal access to the benefits of self-generation. In addition, CSGs deliver the benefits of solar power at lower costs by aggregating customers into larger projects, which have economies of scale.
Low income communities of color pay more than their fair share for their family’s energy needs because energy costs are a higher percentage of their income. The Community Solar Gardens Act provides an opportunity for energy sovereignty by allowing neighbors to join together to crowd-source renewable energy.
Juntos and CVNMEF supports communities’ ability to choose their own energy sources at the most local level.Juntos’ community leaders want energy that fuels their homes and lives to have the least impacts on climate change and health. In a community survey of 500 Latino families in Albuquerque, 73% said it is very important that their utility generate electricity in ways that do not pollute our air or contribute to climate change.
“Most of the time, a utility company or the legislature is making energy decisions for our community,” Juntos Director Christopher Ramirez said. “Policies like the Community Solar Gardens Act provides an opportunity for communities to be a part of how we power our homes and lives. We are misled to believe that the dirtiest energy is the cheapest option. In reality, we should have access to the renewable energy options that are affordable and healthy for our families.”