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NM agency tallies renewable energy tax credits

Susan Montoya Bryan, Associated Press

ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. (AP) -- New Mexico officials reviewed and processed thousands of requests in 2012 for tax credits and other funding aimed at boosting renewable energy development in the state.

The growth over the past year included 50 new megawatts of wind power and four times the amount of solar-generated power than what was available in 2011, according to the latest annual report from the Energy, Minerals and Natural Resources Department.

State officials said there's now 152 megawatts of solar power operating in New Mexico. That includes new arrays brought online by the state's largest electric provider, Public Service Company of New Mexico, and thousands of new residential photovoltaic units.

New Mexico's not alone in its interest in solar. Nationally, in the third quarter alone, the photovoltaic market saw 44 percent growth over the same period in 2011, according to the Solar Energy Industries Association.

New Mexico continues to rank sixth in the nation for installed solar electric capacity, according to the association.

Officials at the state energy and minerals agency said they received more than a dozen applications for the renewable energy production tax credit over a 12-month period through October 2012. The agency awarded nine certificates for solar generators and one for a wind farm.

The tax credit has been maxed out, but those credits issued to older generators will start to be retired in 2013. That means those funds will be available again for newer projects.

The agency also processed more than 2,200 tax credit applications aimed at making residential solar systems more affordable and for encouraging sustainable building practices.

Those figures marked increases for both the solar market development tax credit and the sustainable building tax credit.

A total of 28 applications — 10 more than in 2011 — also were submitted and processed for geothermal credits. State officials said most of that activity took place in Dona Ana County.

The energy and minerals agency also managed more than 150 clean energy projects stemming from federal stimulus spending. State officials said ongoing assessments show the resulting upgrades at schools and other state, tribal and municipal buildings have saved an estimated $2 million in annual utility spending.