On Oct. 6, 2021, Mayor Tim Keller proclaimed the first Wednesday in October Energy Efficiency Day. On October 5, 2022 city officials celebrated the day by highlighting some of the projects completed to make Albuquerque more energy efficient and environmentally sustainable.
District 7 City Councilor Tammy Fiebelkorn provided details of the city’s efforts to become more energy efficient to a small crowd at the North Domingo Baca Multigenerational Center.
“I’m so proud of the work that the city of Albuquerque is doing on energy efficiency,” Fiebelkorn said. “We are really leading by example on energy efficiency for all city buildings, and it’s so important because energy efficiency is great for the environment. It’s our best tool against climate change. But it’s also really good for individuals. It helps you reduce your bills. It improves your comfort and safety and it gives us a better community health. So all around it’s a win-win.”
By the numbers
According to a pamphlet made available during Wednesday’s presentations, some of the city’s energy efficiency milestones include:
- Completed energy efficiency retrofits in 123 city buildings
- Achieved yearly energy savings of 236.5 GWh
- Generated $53 million in total yearly cost savings
- Eliminated 167,603 metric tons of CO2
- BRAIN (Balanced Resource Acquisition and Information Network) monitors more than 600 facilities, with projected energy savings of 40% to 60%
In addition to retrofitting government buildings, Fiebelkorn said the city is also helping homeowners and local residents to become more energy efficient through various programs. “We’re able to go out into the community and help low-income people reduce their energy burden and reduce their energy bills and have more money to spend on other things. And we’re actually meeting our climate goals at the same time,” Fiebelkorn said.
She said the Energy Efficiency Development Block Grant passed by the state legislature earlier this year provides $10 million in funds to help improve energy efficiency.
“That is going to give grants to local jurisdictions to go out into their most energy-burdened frontline communities, go into those homes, reduce their energy burden, improve their livelihood, and help us fight climate change and meet our climate goals for the state,” Fiebelkorn said. “So, this is a really exciting new project and it’s the first of its kind in our region. In fact, I think it’s the first of its kind nationally, so it’s really, really cool.”
Tax credit for energy efficiency
Additionally, an amendment to the Sustainable Building Tax Credit will allow commercial and residential property owners to receive a credit for installing energy-conserving products in existing buildings. Energy conserving products include certain air source and ground source heat pumps, heat pump water heaters, windows, doors, insulation upgrades and electric vehicle charging equipment. To receive the credit, the energy conserving products must have been installed on or after Jan. 1, 2021.
According to the New Mexico Energy, Minerals and Natural Resources website, “Starting on January 1, 2021, New Mexico will provide a tax incentive for EV charging in residential and commercial buildings through the 2021 SBTC for both existing and new construction of buildings that are EV ready. The incentive provides for both affordable and non-affordable housing, with commercial and residential affordable buildings qualifying for 100% of the product cost up to $3,000 with non-affordable building eligibility cut to 50% and limited to $1,500.”
The tax credit can be sold, transferred or carried forward for seven years and is refundable for low-income taxpayers who have exceeded their income tax liability. More information about the tax-credit can be found online at emnrd.nm.gov/ecmd/tax-incentives/sustainable-building-tax-credit-sbtc.
Reducing the energy burden, fighting climate change
Ona Porter, a clean energy leader for the nonprofit Prosperity Works, said through its community-to-community model, more low-income families are now eligible for free energy conserving products. Energy-efficient light bulbs, caulking and caulking guns, low-pressure shower heads, thermostats and carbon monoxide alarms are some of the items New Mexico residents can get for free from utility companies.
“So, what does that mean?” Porter asked. “It means that now, one can either self-attest to their income qualification or then just be swept in as PNM had done. If you’re in a Title I school district, you’re eligible. Now the importance of that can’t be overstated, that we really have lowered the barriers and it is what allows us to do this work and do it in a hurry.”
She said 218 homes in the South Valley were retrofitted with energy efficiency products in just 10 weeks through Prosperity Works’ community-to-community-model. “How do we do that? We had people who were community leaders who were identifying and qualifying and scheduling the work. This is amazing,” Porter said. “This is amazing, and the importance of that is, as the councilor said, we’re reducing the energy burden.”
Fiebelkorn said she will continue to make sure more New Mexicans are able to participate in energy efficiency programs and that more money will be available to expand these programs through the Infrastructure Act and Inflation Reduction Act.
“So those are the kinds of things that we’re working on statewide that I think are going to really bring the benefits of our fight against climate change to our frontline communities,” Fiebelkorn said.
Other energy efficiency milestones highlighted by city officials include lighting upgrades to the North Domingo Baca Multigenerational Center that reduce yearly energy demand by 77% and saves more than $110,000 a year. Solar panels installed at the center are also estimated to save $384,052 over a 30-year period.
To learn more about what the city is doing to fight climate change and lower the energy burden for Albuquerque residents, visit cabq.gov/sustainability/climate-action-plan.