New Mexicans now may find it a little easier to harness the power of the sun. House Bill 269, signed into law by Gov. Bill Richardson in March, offers tax credits to individuals who purchase solar systems for their home or business. Such systems cost thousands of dollars to install. The tax credits would cover 30 percent of the installation cost, up to $9,000.
The state bill works in conjunction with the 2005 Federal Energy Bill’s solar tax credits which also cover 30 percent of the cost of a new solar system but are capped at $2,000. Therefore, if a system costs as much as $6,666, then only the federal tax credits would apply. After $6,666, the state tax credits kick in.
“This tax credit will encourage New Mexicans to utilize our abundant solar resources, grow our solar industry, and promote the use of clean energy,” said Richardson when he signed the bill. The bill allots $5 million to be used in the form of solar tax credits, and the act expires on Dec. 15, 2015.
Applying for the tax credits has been possible since July 1, but as of yet the New Mexico Energy, Minerals and Natural Resources Department (EMNRD says no one has applied. However, the EMNRD expects that $655,000 of the $5 million that’s available will be spent this year. In seven to eight years, the department estimates that all of the allotted funds will be used.
“Within a time frame of about 10 years, the solar thermal systems can pay for themselves with the money that’s saved using solar energy,” says New Mexico Association of Energy Engineers President Brian Johnson. “With the [more expensive systems],” Johnson adds, “you’re looking at somewhere around 20 to 30 years before they pay for themselves.”
While he admits that many resources go into the making of solar systems, including fossil fuels, Director of Conservation Management at EMNRD Fernando Martinez says the greatest advantage of using solar energy is that, overall, it decreases the reliance on fossil fuels for producing energy.
“We’d like to diversify our sources of energy as much as possible and to increase our use of clean energy,” Martinez explains. “These tax credits should help ease the burden on people who are interested in helping the environment by using solar energy.”