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New Mexico becomes 3rd state to adopt 100% clean power law

New Mexico officially became the third U.S. state to target the complete decarbonization of its power system before midcentury when Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham on March 22 signed the Energy Transition Act into law.

The measure, also known as Senate Bill 489, boosts the state's renewable portfolio standard to 50% by 2030, from 20% by 2020 previously, growing to 80% by 2040 before reaching 100% carbon-free power by 2045. In addition, the law allows a qualifying utility to recover certain "energy transition costs" from customers, including up to $375 million in "abandonment costs" for the retiring coal-fired San Juan power plant, majority owned by PNM Resources Inc. subsidiary Public Service Co. of New Mexico.

The law also directs the New Mexico Public Regulation Commission to approve the procurement of energy storage systems, which can compete for up to 450 MW of "replacement resources" for retiring coal capacity.

The Democratic governor was widely expected to sign the legislation after the state House of Representatives approved the bill March 12 following the Senate's passage one week earlier. New Mexico joins California and Hawaii as the only states to date that have 100% clean energy laws on the books. All three have 2045 targets.

Renewable energy trade groups and environmental organizations praised New Mexico's passage of the Energy Transition Act.

"We applaud the leadership of the New Mexico legislature and Governor Lujan Grisham for setting New Mexico on a path to a cleaner and stronger economy just months into her new administration," said Tom Kiernan, CEO of the American Wind Energy Association, in a news release. "Ambitious renewable energy policies turn heads in the business community, drawing nationally-recognized corporate brands into the state and encouraging developers to invest billions of dollars into wind farms that create jobs and revenues for rural communities."

"We now have three states committed to 100% clean, renewable electricity, and momentum is building," Rob Sargent, senior director of Environment America's clean energy program, added. Zero-carbon power efforts are underway in numerous other states, including Colorado, Florida, Illinois, Massachusetts, Minnesota, New York, and Washington.