Placitas Recycling Center gets
ready for summer
Summertime presents its own challenges for the Placitas Recycling
Center. Heat in combination with food residues can create an undesirable
nuisance. That is why the center’s managers are asking Placitas
residents to be especially conscientious at this time of year about
rinsing plastic containers before recycling them and not bringing
in boxes with food remains (e.g., pizza boxes).
“We’ve wrestled with vermin problems in the past,”
comments Placitas Recycling Association President John Richardson,
“but we’ve gotten the problem under control and want
to make sure it stays under control.” Food residues can attract
rats and other pests any time of year, but unsanitary conditions
are a particular concern in the summer. In order to manage the risk,
volunteers may reject items brought in for recycling if they haven’t
been adequately cleaned. In most cases, a quick rinse is all that
Patrons of the recycling center are also asked to separate their
materials before bringing them in so they can be quickly placed
in the correct containers. The center has separate receptacles for
corrugated cardboard, mixed paper, white office paper, chipboard,
aluminum, No. 1 plastic (PETE), and No. 2 plastic (HDPE). Separating
these items before bringing them in saves volunteers from having
to spend extra time separating them in the heat at the center. “These
are small ways residents can help us provide the community a valuable
service in a safe and healthy way,” notes Richardson.
Located on Highway 165 just east of I-25, the all-volunteer Placitas
Recycling Center is open Saturdays from 8:00 to 11:00 a.m. Additional
volunteers are always needed and can sign up at the center or call
Carmen Ketchum at 771-1311. More information about the center can
be found at www.placitasrecycling.com.
Summer Solstice celebration and picnic supper
in ancient Placitas
—JOHN ORNE GREEN
A celebration of the Summer Solstice, when the longest day and
shortest night of the year occur, will be held at a special site
on Las Huertas Creek in Placitas on Saturday, June 21 starting at
6:00 p.m. The site is part of a large-scale, ongoing restoration
of the creek (in former times, a river flowing all the way to the
Rio Grande) sponsored by The Las Placitas Association.
The Solstice celebration will include a short walk along the creek
and viewing of the extensive restoration activities to date. A ceremony
at the “meditation grove” by the creek will feature
music with local singers and musicians, readings, and short periods
of silence. Three trees will be planted to honor the restoration.
Attendees are then invited to stay and enjoy a picnic in the grove
and learn a bit about ancient Placitas.
The site is near the historic Placitas Indian Pueblo, as well as
the old San Jose de las Huertas Land Grant Village, now an archaeological
The Summer Solstice celebration is a regular joint offering of
The Earth Care Fellowship of Las Placitas Presbyterian Church and
The Partnership for Earth Spirituality of Albuquerque as part of
the Earth Vespers series.
The event is free to the public; donations are welcomed. All are
invited. The supper is potluck, so please bring a dish to share
and a beverage.
Attendees can meet at Las Placitas Presbyterian Church (map at
at 5:30 p.m. to carpool to the site (a few minutes away off of Tecolote).
You may also email John Green at firstname.lastname@example.org for detailed
directions to the site.
Domenici’s New Mexico Water Planning Bill
Last month, President Bush signed a law that includes legislation
authored by U.S. Senator Pete Domenici that will give New Mexico
added federal water planning assistance to more accurately assess
its water resources. The New Mexico Water Planning Assistance Act
(S.255) was included in S.2739, an amalgamation of sixty-two individual
bills cleared by the Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee.
The New Mexico water legislation, which was co-sponsored by Senator
Jeff Bingaman, authorizes the Bureau of Reclamation (BOR) and U.S.
Geological Survey (USGS) to provide specific technical assistance
to the New Mexico Office of the State Engineer (OSE) for assessing
water resources in New Mexico and their future use.
“With this new law, we’ve authorized federal water
agencies to more effectively coordinate and assist New Mexico with
planning, assessing, and studying its water resources. As our state
grows, it is imperative that we have a more accurate understanding
of our water resources. This knowledge will be critical to planning
for the state’s long-term future,” Domenici said.
“This new law will help New Mexico water managers plan for
and meet the water needs of residents throughout the state,”
said Bingaman, Senate Energy Committee chairman.
The new law authorizes BOR and USGS to provide technical assistance
to the state of New Mexico, and authorizes an annual $3 million
for five years to the OSE to perform hydrologic models of New Mexico’s
most important water systems, basins, and tributaries.
The technical and financial assistance will help the OSE acquire
hydrologic data, assess existing water resources, coordinate efforts
with federal water management initiatives, and assist with numerical
analysis and modeling to provide an integrated understanding of
water management options.
Still pending before the Senate is a separate committee-passed
Domenici bill, the New Mexico Aquifer Assessment Act (S.324). It
would authorize the USGS to assess groundwater aquifer resources
in the Estancia Basin, Salt Basin, Tularosa Basin, Hueco Basin,
and Middle Rio Grande Basin in New Mexico. Bingaman also co-sponsored
Rio Rancho offers erosion control community workshop
An Erosion Control Community Workshop will take place on Saturday,
June 7 from 9:00 a.m. to 12:00 noon at Rio Rancho City Hall. This
event is sponsored by District 4 City Councilor Steve Shaw, District
6 City Councilor Kathy Colley, the City of Rio Rancho, Southern
Sandoval County Arroyo Flood Control Authority (SSCAFCA), Chamiza
Estates Neighborhood Association, and the Los Rios neighborhood.
Residents who attend this workshop will hear presentations by professionals
in the fields of erosion control, capturing rain water, and much
more. There will also be rain barrels given away as door prizes.
At the conclusion of the workshop, participants will be invited
to view homes in Rio Rancho that have already implemented many of
the techniques that will be discussed.
This workshop will be held in the first floor Governing Body Chambers
of Rio Rancho City Hall, located at 3200 Civic Center Circle NE.
For additional information, please visit the city’s website
Growing local in a time of global food crisis
The Jubilee Garden, part of the Presbyterian Church of Placitas
and located across the street from the church, is coming up green.
We have planted sweet corn, over fifty hills of winter squash, pole
beans, peppers, tomatoes, eggplant, okra, garlic, potatoes, summer
squash, flowers, and more. We sowed buckwheat on the entire plot
to compete with weeds and to be later pulled as our vegetables grow.
The buckwheat growing between the rows and around the edge may provide
a bit of breakfast cereal or chicken feed when it matures. As of
May 22, we still have about a third of the rows left to plant. Our
motto is that of César Chávez and the Farm Workers
Union: “Sí, se puede!” (Yes, we can!) And by
the way, weeds don’t scare us! Come and join us at any time
during the season. Call me, Dan Gips at 867-4801 or email me at
email@example.com for more details.
The United Nations reports that hundreds of millions of people
worldwide face starvation in the next months due to commodity speculation,
globalization of food production, soil depletion, climate change,
and increased mouths to feed. Placitas has a history of being a
small horn of plenty, nestled beside the Sandia Mountains. Maybe
now is the time to pay more attention to Mother Earth, get some
of her soil under our fingernails, and enjoy locally grown nutritious
Solar energy, New Mexico tax credits, and you
Solar energy systems are good for the environment and good for
your wallet. For every kilowatt-hour of electricity generated by
solar energy instead of a coal-fired power plant, greenhouse gas
emissions are reduced by two pounds of carbon dioxide and three-quarters
of a gallon of water is saved. An average New Mexico household powered
by a solar electric photovoltaic (PV) system would prevent the release
at the power plant of thirteen thousand pounds of carbon dioxide
into the atmosphere and save at least five thousand gallons of water
each year. Solar thermal systems—for water heating, space
heating, and even space cooling—also benefit the environment
by offsetting heating fuel usage, like natural gas and propane.
In New Mexico, the Clean Energy State, citizens get additional
tax breaks for solar energy on top of federal tax incentives that
are currently scheduled to expire at the end of 2008. The financial
FOR RESIDENTIAL CUSTOMERS:
The federal tax credit for a PV system that generates electricity
or a solar thermal system is thirty percent of the cost of the system
capped at $2,000 for systems purchased between January 1, 2006 and
December 31, 2008. Unless Congress reenacts the federal tax credit,
it will expire at the end of 2008.
Depending on the cost of the system and the amount of the federal
tax credit, New Mexico provides additional tax credits up to $9,000,
for a total of up to $11,000 when combined with the federal tax
credit. The state tax credit applies to systems purchased between
January 1, 2006 and December 31, 2015, continuing after the federal
tax credit is scheduled to expire.
If two separate systems are installed, such as PV and solar water
heating, state tax credits can be claimed for both systems, up to
a total of $18,000 in state tax credits.
The sale of solar equipment to businesses that install systems
became exempt from the state Gross Receipts Tax on July 1, 2007,
helping to reduce installation costs.
Residential customers with PV systems can also reduce their electricity
bill through utility company net metering programs, as the energy
their PV system produces offsets their utility usage.
The value of PV power for net metering programs is the same as
the utility company’s retail price. In Albuquerque, this is
about eight cents per kilowatt-hour.
It is possible for a residence to generate more electricity than
is used, causing the meter to run backward, which means the utility
provides a credit toward their future electricity use.
Some utility companies, in order to meet state-mandated requirements
for electricity from renewable energy sources, will pay a premium,
called a Renewable Energy Credit (REC), on top of the going retail
rate for electricity. For example, PNM currently pays thirteen cents
a kilowatt-hour for PV-generated electricity.
The cost of installing a PV system runs about $10 per watt. An
average home would need a four-kilowatt system, at about $40,000,
to handle all daily needs. With federal and state tax credits, the
net cost of such a system would be reduced to about $29,000.
In new home construction or a home purchase, the cost of installing
a PV system could be amortized in the mortgage, so a family could
get the mortgage interest deduction through their federal tax return
and claim the federal and state tax credits.
The federal tax credit is claimed by filling out a form with the
total cost of the system and multiplying by thirty percent. Taxpayers
can take up to $2,000 in a tax credit.
Filing for the New Mexico tax credit requires first that the solar
system be certified by the Energy, Minerals and Natural Resources
Department. The certification process supports quality assurance
of solar systems and includes requirements for permitting, licensed
contractors, and code-compliant equipment. Many solar system installers
will assist with documenting the solar system operation and the
For more information on solar credits in New Mexico, call (505)
476-3310 or visit www.CleanEnergyNM.org.
FOR BUSINESS CUSTOMERS:
The federal tax credit for a business installing a solar PV system
is thirty percent of the cost of the entire system, with no cap,
much more than the $2,000 credit for individuals. The thirty percent
federal tax credit is available through December 31, 2008.
Taxpayers who own businesses or agricultural enterprises and file
an individual New Mexico income tax return are eligible for the
New Mexico solar tax credit for their businesses. The state tax
credit is available through December 31, 2015. The amount of the
tax credit is the same as that for residential taxpayers, thirty
percent, up to a cap of $9,000.
As utility company customers, businesses can also take advantage
of net metering. Because businesses typically have larger buildings
and facilities than homes, they have potential for generating much
more solar PV electricity than homes.