February 4, 2023

Senator William Soules filed SB 77, which says all new homes must have an EV plug and require one watt of solar energy per square foot of heated living space.

Senator William Soules of New Mexico has submitted SB77 for consideration with the state legislature. The draft law, which currently only consists of a few sentences, stipulates that from July 2023 all newly built houses must be equipped with a solar power system and a socket for electric vehicles.

By law, a new home must have at least one watt of photovoltaic array for every square foot of heated area. Specifications for the electric vehicle charging socket were not provided.

For homes 1,900 square feet to 3,000 square feet in size, the law would require a minimum solar power system of 1.9 kWdc to 3.0 kWdc. If we assume that a solar system costs $3 per watt at the time of construction, the law would raise the price of a new home between $5,700 and $9,000. However, the effective price of such a system would actually be $3,450 to $5,000 after the 10 percent New Mexico income tax credit and 30 percent federal tax credit are applied.

Electricity rates in New Mexico are generally lower than the rest of the country, but the amount of sunlight is above average. As a result, the payback period in the state is likely to fall in the seven to nine year range. New Mexico also has a strong net metering program.

As no specifications were given for the EV charging connector, we cannot estimate the cost. However, it could be argued that the requirement for a vehicle charger does not increase construction costs, since an electric car can be plugged into any socket. If the law dictates that a 240-volt outlet be installed at the time of new construction, the cost could be as little as a few hundred dollars in labor, copper, and a circuit breaker. Households that have already planned to install 240 volt sockets in their garage would not see any additional costs.

The senator has also submitted SB60which mandates that new public schools built after July 1, 2023 — which also receive government grants — must include a solar array that meets the school’s energy needs.

California law already requires that all new construction—residential and commercial—contain a minimum amount of solar energy based on structural characteristics.

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