New Mexico Legislature passes Community Energy Efficiency Development Block Grant Act
New doors open for energy equity and help for those most impacted by climate change
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Tammy Fiebelkorn, SWEEP | firstname.lastname@example.org
[ALBUQUERQUE, NM] – Last evening, in a 26-14 vote, the New Mexico Senate passed House Bill (HB) 37, the Community Energy Efficiency Development (CEED) Block Grant Act. The bill now goes to the Governor for signature. The Act benefits low-income New Mexicans by bringing more equity to utility bills and supporting those communities most impacted by climate change.
"I'm so thankful to the New Mexico Legislature for supporting this crucial bill that will bring the benefits of our fight against climate change to our low-income underserved communities by reducing energy burdens and creating jobs." said Tammy Fiebelkorn, New Mexico Representative for the Southwest Energy Efficiency Project (SWEEP).
The CEED Block Grant Act will improve utility affordability and reduce energy burdens for low-income New Mexicans. New Mexicans living in rural, low-income, and other underserved communities spend a high portion of their income on utility bills. On average, those living below the poverty line pay 15% of their income toward energy bills alone. Making energy efficiency improvements in low-income housing cuts energy bills for these residents, improves the quality of affordable housing stock, and will help New Mexico achieve its climate change goals.
This is the third year that a version of this legislation has been attempted. The CEED concept has gone through legislative interim hearings and has been heard numerous times in both the House and Senate. Extensive outreach and engagement with stakeholders resulted in broad support for HB37 from environmental groups, labor, faith-based advocates, utilities, and low-income advocates.
The bill sponsors, Representative Kristina Ortez and Senate Pro Tempore Stewart, worked diligently before and during this 30-day legislative session to shepherd HB37 through two House committees, a three-hour floor debate on the House floor, two Senate committees, and last night's Senate floor hearing. They were joined by other sponsors: Representatives Debra Sarinana, Patricia Roybal Caballero, Tara Lujan, and Senator Jeff Steinborn.
"The grants provided from the CEED fund will help low-income New Mexicans reduce their energy bills, reduce emissions, and help fight climate change, and also create good paying local jobs in communities where those jobs are needed most. It's a win-win-win piece of legislation and I'm thankful to all my fellow legislators for supporting this bill" said Representative Ortez.
The CEED fund will be established at the New Mexico Department of Energy, Minerals, and Natural Resources and will provide block grants to local and Tribal governments, and the Mortgage Finance Authority, to make targeted energy efficiency improvements in underserved communities in partnership with local community organizations. CEED complements existing federal, state, and utility efficiency programs and extends the number of New Mexicans living in poverty who receive assistance.
The Southwest Energy Efficiency Project (SWEEP) is a public interest organization promoting greater energy efficiency in Arizona, Colorado, Nevada, New Mexico, Utah, and Wyoming. swenergy.org