New Jersey passes bill to increase solar mandate

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Perhaps no other state has exemplified the “solar coaster” of market ups and downs as has New Jersey. By 2012 it was the third-largest solar market in the nation, installing over 400 MW in one year. However this represented over-building under the schedule of the state’s renewable portfolio standard (RPS), leading to a crash in solar renewable energy credit (SREC) prices and construction of new projects.

Despite tweaks to the SREC program New Jersey’s solar market has struggled to regain its footing over the last five years. Today the New Jersey legislature passed the final version of a bill to modify this system by increasing the solar requirement under the RPS to 5.3% of utility sales in 2022, up from the current 4.1% in 2028.

S2276 calls for the creation of a 25-member commission to study solar energy in the state, including making recommendations as to whether or not to expand the state’s RPS at from its current end date in 2028 least through 2031, improvements to the state’s interconnection policies and its SREC system.

Solar Energy Industries Association (SEIA) applauded the move. “The legislation approved this week provides a crucial short-term fix that will enable the state’s solar industry to keep growing and adding jobs, while the state works on an even more ambitious long term plan,” stated SEIA VP of State Affairs Sean Gallagher.

Gallagher further notes that SEIA plans to be part of future work on solar policy, including a successor to the SREC program, as part of the states’ Energy Master Plan process.

The bill now goes to New Jersey Governor Chris Christie (R) for approval. However Christie’s second term ends in nine days, after which he will be replaced by Governor-elect Phil Murphy (D).