On his way out, Chris Christie sticks it to solar in New Jersey

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Yesterday, the New Jersey governor who presided over the state’s rise to No. 2 in the amount of installed solar in the nation delivered a swift kick to that state’s recovering industry on his way out the door.

Now former Governor Chris Christie, whose term ended yesterday at noon, left office with Senate Bill 2276 (S 2276) tucked in his pocket, vetoing a bill that would have raised the state’s renewable portfolio standard (RPS) and increased the solar-specific carve-out.

The “pocket veto” Christie used to kill the bill only applies to  bills passed within the last 10 days of a two-year legislative session and is not subject to being overturned by the legislature, in contrast to a regular veto.

Without the increase, state solar advocates say the state’s solar market could crash again and put its more than 6,000 solar employees as risk.

Currently, New Jersey’s solar carve-out with the overall RPS, currently 20% by 2020-2021, is supposed to rise to 4.1% by 2027-2028. S-2276 would have raised solar portion of the RPS to 4.6% next year, 5.3% for 2020-2021.

Christie announced the pocket veto without comment. While not unexpected, the veto throws the New Jersey solar industry into some turmoil, since now a new bill will have to be introduced and passed in the next legislative session. Observers predict the solar industry only has six to eight months to get new legislation passed before damage begins to be felt.

New New Jersey Governor Phil Murphy campaigned strongly on environmental issues and is likely to sign any pro-renewable energy legislation passed while he is governor.