Ledes from the Land of Enchantment

The city of Las Cruces is working on carbon free development

The city of Las Cruces is working on a resolution to support sustainable carbon-free development.

A resolution to support a carbon-free development that uses electricity and the sun as energy sources is under consideration by the Las Cruces City Council. Lisa LaRocque, the city’s sustainability officer, only affects the new municipal building.

“This resolution is about making a building potentially greenhouse gas free because it is purely electric and electricity can ultimately be supplied by renewable energies,” said LaRocque.

Urban sustainability specialist Jenny Hernandez said the resolution also addresses current technical barriers, including training needs.

“What we’re suggesting for this barrier is that we hold an annual conference that provides guidance and education on carbon-free development,” said Hernandez. “We believe this will really help give everyone the understanding they need, but also the training, right, the technical part.”

The directive is being introduced as a resolution rather than a more formal ordinance to give the city more freedom to make additional changes. This idea is supported by Councilor Gabe Vasquez, who pointed out the importance of continuous evaluation.

“I think it’s the right thing,” said Vasquez. “I appreciate this ability to perfect and fix the kinks or the potential difficulties or challenges in order to move forward before it is codified in a regulation.”

Mayor Ken Miyagishima says he wants the city to take advantage of more third party agreements to save money on electricity bills. He also campaigned for emergency access to natural gas.

“For some reason, I just don’t feel that this future resolution addresses what I think the council would like to see,” said Miyagishima. “Slowed down greenhouse gas elimination, still recognizing utility investments but still having access to them in an emergency.”

The Housing and Neighborhood Services Department says additional consultations need to be conducted with nonprofit city partners to ensure affordable housing projects remain affordable. Lisa LaRocque, city sustainability officer, says the federal Justice40 initiative was created to help low- to middle-income communities take advantage of clean energy funding opportunities.

“The infrastructure and reconciliation grants that will come out are subject to a condition called Justice40,” LaRocque said. “40% of the funds have to go to the LMI community. Criteria have to show that they are effective. So all of these various incentives, discount programs and grant programs are designed in such a way that it would be tax irresponsible not to follow these guidelines and these grant options in order to be able to do the best for these communities. ”

Councilor Gill Sorg, who supports the resolution, says it builds on New Mexico’s energy transition law and helps the city take control of its future of clean energy.

“We need a way to a clean energy future,” said Sorg. “The state has already done this with its energy law, which it passed a few years ago. And that’s only part of this path. “

The Council is expected to vote on the decision at the end of December.

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