Last week Mayor Tim Keller announced a plan to make Albuquerque move completely into renewable energy within the next four years.
According to a press release, the city will be working with Public Service Company of New Mexico to build a new solar generating station as part of a new PNM program. The proposed 50-megawatt solar plant will sell 25 megawatts to the city for use on municipal properties, as the plan dictates, and sell the remaining 25 megawatts to other municipalities through PNM's Solar Direct Program. If the station receives state regulatory approval, within 2 years, 58 percent of the city's energy will come from the renewable source, according to the release. Right now only four percent of the city's energy usage comes from a renewable source.
Keller's plan also includes installing more energy efficient street lighting and reducing the city’s energy consumption. It's expected to be fully implemented by 2022, and officials say it will eliminate the equivalent of 93,000 metric tons of CO2 emissions every year. The plan should also lower energy costs for the city in the long run. The cost and location of the proposed facility have not been discussed.
PED Rejects Changes to Grading System
The New Mexico Public Education Department responded negatively to a suggestion that it alter the way it evaluates school performance.
Albuquerque Journal reports the School Grades Work Group spoke before the Legislative Education Study Committee last month, recommending that the current school grading system be abolished. PED evaluates schools using an A to F grading system based on student assessments. The working group suggested that the grading system places too much focus on failure, and consequently demoralizes school leaders. Members proposed replacing the system with a dashboard model that would profile schools and communicate how each was performing.
But PED Secretary-designate Christopher Ruszkowski called the recommendation “an underhanded way to reduce public accountability and transparency” by schools performing poorly. He also pointed out that they met behind closed doors without participation from representatives of the department, as is required by the legislative memorial that created the group. Chairwoman of the LESC State Sen. Mimi Stewart claimed an invitation was sent to PED when the group began meeting a year ago, but it was ignored. PED spokesman Christopher Eide told reporters that no such email had been found.
BernCo Looks to Treatment Instead of Jail
Officials with Bernalillo County's Department of Behavioral Health Services announced the adoption of a new program that will offer nonviolent offenders suffering from mental illness or dependency issues the option of getting help instead of jail time.
According to KRQE, the Law Enforcement Assisted Diversion Program (L.E.A.D.) was approved by County Commissioners last month. The program will attempt to address mental health problems in low-level offenders that could lead to worse criminal behavior in the future. The program has already been successfully implemented in Santa Fe. The District Attorney’s Office will help decide which offenses will qualify for the program, which is expected to be up and running by July 2019.