The General Services Department, in partnership with other state agencies, will soon begin a $32 million project to improve the energy efficiency of state buildings in Santa Fe, including installation of solar power and government’s first battery storage of solar power.
GSD also will be purchasing the first electric vehicles for the government motor pool, and it will build charging stations for the vehicles in Santa Fe.
Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham has made building a clean energy future for New Mexico and reducing the state’s impact on climate change a priority of her administration.
The governor, in one of her first executive orders, created an interagency Climate Change Task Force to develop a strategy to address climate change. The executive order also requires state agencies to curb their carbon footprints.
In legislation approved by the Legislature and signed in March by Lujan Grisham, the General Services Department received $20 million to help pay for the $32 million project to improve the energy efficiency of state buildings in Santa Fe.
The department is requesting that the New Mexico Finance Authority issue bonds to finance the remaining $12 million of the green energy project. GSD’s mission includes overseeing improvements to state buildings.
Also, the General Services Department received $1 million to purchase electric motor vehicles for use by state workers and another $1.5 million to create vehicle charging stations at state facilities in Santa Fe County.
“I want to thank Governor Lujan Grisham for initiating the executive order to move New Mexico forward to a clean energy, sustainable future,” GSD Cabinet Secretary Ken Ortiz said. “It is our responsibility to ensure we are incorporating energy-efficiency measures to benefit future generations.”
The bonds to help finance the $32 million green energy project for government buildings would be issued by the New Mexico Finance Authority under the state Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy Bonding Act.
In exchange for the financing, the annual operating budget of the General Services Department would be reduced by an amount equal to 90 percent of the utility savings from the project.
Trane U.S. Inc., a department contractor hired to implement the green energy project, has guaranteed utility savings of $1.1 million a year. Actual savings are expected to exceed $1.4 million a year.
As part of the project, solar power will be installed on 19 state buildings in Santa Fe.
The green energy initiative also includes to improvements to lighting, electric transformers, heating and air conditioning systems, doors and windows.
Before entering into the contract for guaranteed utility savings, the General Services Department needed certification from the Energy, Minerals and Natural Resources Department (EMNRD) that the projected utility savings from the green energy project appeared to be accurate and reasonable.
EMNRD issued that certification April 9. It is the first certification for a government department under a program that makes it possible for state and local public agencies to pay for energy efficiency projects with guaranteed utility savings.
State colleges, cities and counties in New Mexico have implemented more than $130 million in energy projects under the program in the last four years, according to EMNRD.
“Installing solar power on government buildings and driving electric vehicles is an excellent way to promote sustainability while leading by example,” said Energy, Minerals and Natural Resources Department Cabinet Secretary Sarah Cottrell Propst. “The green energy initiative will go a long way in making our government facilities more energy efficient and saving our state money. It’s a win-win that has the full support of EMNRD.”
The energy efficiency work on state buildings is expected to begin within the next few months.