Veto destroys chance for N.M. solar energy

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Citizens group, Got Sol, with $185,000 of bipartisan support from 27 legislators, proposed to design and construct a solar system for the state’s Government Complex buildings. The funding provides immediate start-up costs to construct a solar system to provide electricity for the Roundhouse, the heart of the Government Complex.
This shovel-ready project can offset 20 percent, or more of the roughly $60,000 it costs to power the Capitol Complex a month. We, the taxpayers, are responsible for that electric bill month after month. This cost-saving measure will pay for itself in three to six years reducing that charge for taxpayers.
Got Sol emerged from the 2012 New Mexico Climate Masters class in Santa Fe. The group agreed to donate 30 volunteer hours to educate New Mexicans about alternative energy and provide solar leadership.
These volunteers went far beyond their commitment by learning from scratch the legislative process of submitting a Capital outlay request to the Legislature for funding the Government Complex solar project. Got Sol volunteers made daily visits to the Roundhouse to solicit support for the project, a financial benefit and job-generating prospect for New Mexicans. With more than 300 days of sunshine a year, New Mexico is perfectly positioned to be a leader in solar energy. Where best to start that leadership than at the very heart of the state, the Roundhouse? After countless hours of researching, talking with experts throughout the state, and seeking guidance and support from legislators, Got Sol crafted the proposal for the solar system to power the Government Complex, starting with the Roundhouse.
Research showed that the new parking garage was already designed for solar panels, a perfect place to initiate the project. Legislative support of $185,000 far exceeded Got Sol’s expectations and fueled the optimism that drove the group forward. That optimism was trounced at the very end of the 2013 Legislative session with the line-item veto.
Armed with newly gained political savvy, tempered with the recent sting of defeat, Got Sol promises to shake off the dust and recommit to pursuing their mission to provide solar energy for our Government Complex, starting with the Roundhouse.
The group will continue to share with New Mexicans from grade-school children to senior citizens the value and vitality of solar power and other forms of renewable energy. Expect to see the Got Sol solar project proposal at the 2014 Legislative Session. To learn more about what you can do to support this effort, please visit gotsol.org.
Janet McVickar is a member of Got Sol.