City officials in Albuquerque, New Mexico are considering a measure that would drastically increase the city’s use of solar energy to power its public facilities -- a measure similar to those that have recently been enforced in cities across the U.S. and the world.
City Council members in Albuquerque, which is New Mexico’s largest city, voted Monday to delay a vote on the measure for another two weeks while they consider its details. Those details include a call to power at least 25 percent of Albuquerque's city facilities with solar energy by 2025, according to news reports.
“By reaching this goal, the city of Albuquerque will save approximately $3.5 million each year,” wrote Sanders Moore, director of the advocacy organization Environment New Mexico, in a May 15 column in the Albuquerque Journal. “Those savings will really add up and can be used for other important purposes, such as clean drinking water, community gardens, litter reduction, parks and public transit.”
Although New Mexico is famous for having 300-plus days of sunshine (including other states like Colorado), only 3 percent of Albuquerque’s power is derived from solar energy, according to Moore.
In the article, Moore jockeyed for the measure by referencing several common incentives for such pro-solar measures, including long-term utilities savings, a reduced dependence on water (which is becoming harder to come by in the Southwest U.S.), protection of the environment, and industry growth coupled with job creation.
City Council members Pat Davis and Isaac Benton have indicated that there is currently no estimate for how much it may cost of implement the plan. Under the current measure, an implementation plan would be due next year and subject to Council approval.
"With the cost of solar coming down every day, we don't know what the best strategy for us is," Davis told ABC News. "But the city owns a lot of acreage of rooftops and we own a lot of open space. Usually acquiring the real estate is the biggest hurdle to getting into this game so it looks like we're going to be ahead when it comes to that. … Albuquerque being one of the state's largest energy consumers, what Albuquerque does, so goes the rest of New Mexico. We're really hoping this is going to fast-track our movement to more renewable sources."
New York, California and dozens of other U.S. states have already implemented solar standard programs of varying degrees.