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Community solar access for low-income groups to be piloted in New Mexico

Associated Press, Susan Montoya Bryan
Solar farm west of Rio Rancho, N.M., that Public Service Co. of New Mexico uses to help power Facebook's data center in central New Mexico.

A new Biden administration initiative to support solar power in low-income communities is set to be piloted in New Mexico.

The goal of the program is for people who receive the energy bill assistance known as LIHEAP to be able to access an online platform and choose whether they want to get their energy from a community solar energy resource.

New Mexico is one of six states participating in the building of the platform.

The While House's Deputy Climate Director Ali Zaidi told KUNM the initiative should lower bills as well as reduce fossil fuel use.

"Rather than going year in year out, sometimes having to pay more when the price of natural gas or electric off the grid goes up, they can actually lock into more stable and lower clean energy costs through this program," he said.

Community solar projects are as yet nascent in New Mexico. A Community Solar Act was signed into law in 2021 and a rulemaking process was finished just last week, although appeals against it are ongoing.

The WK Kellogg foundation and our listeners made this reporting possible

Alice Fordham joined the news team in 2022 after a career as an international correspondent, reporting for NPR from the Middle East and later Latin America and Europe. She also worked as a podcast producer for The Economist among other outlets, and tries to meld a love of sound and storytelling with solid reporting on the community. She grew up in the U.K. and has a small jar of Marmite in her kitchen for emergencies.
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