As the Trump Administration and a handful of regressive power companies continue to try to find mechanisms to shore up failing coal and nuclear power plants, more states and cities are increasing their renewable energy ambitions.
As the latest, today New Jersey Governor Phil Murphy (D) has signed a wide-ranging renewable energy bill that will mandate that utilities source 50% of their electricity from renewable energy by 2030, while setting a process to move the state from SRECs to another form of incentive and creating both an energy storage target and a community solar program.
This is both an expansion and acceleration of the state’s current mandate of 20.38% by 2020, and puts New Jersey in a three-way tie for the third-most ambitious renewables portfolio standard (RPS) in the nation with New York and California, both of which have 50% by 2030 mandates. Only Vermont (75% by 2032) and Hawaii (100% by 2045) have more aggressive policies.
These five states have a combined population of around 70 million, representing more than 20% of the total U.S. population.
Not stopping there, Governor Murphy simultaneously issued an executive order calling for the state to develop a plan for 100% clean energy by 2050. And while wind, community solar and energy storage are named in the order, it is unclear whether or not this will include nuclear power as non-carbon emitting generation source.
Many changes to solar policy
As previously covered by pv magazine, A 3723 does a lot more than increase the state’s RPS. The bill will set a mandate for utilities to source 5.1% of their power from customer-owned and other forms of behind-the-meter solar by 2021, as the most ambitious target for distributed solar in the United States.
It also closes down the state’s solar renewable energy credit (SREC) system in 2021, while directing regulators to form a new program to support distributed solar. Additionally, the bill also sets a target for the state to reach 600 MW of energy storage by 2021 and 2 GW by 2030.
Another significant aspect of the bill is the creation of a pilot program for community solar, that must be converted a full-scale program no more than three years after the pilot is established. Aside from this many of the details here will be up to state regulators, but the Coalition for Community Solar Access (CCSA) says that this will open up the market.
“We look forward to working with the New Jersey Board of Public Utilities to create a robust program that enables hundreds of thousands of consumers across the state to choose community solar and save money on their electric bills,” notes Brandon Smithwood, policy director of CCSA.
In addition to CCSA, the legislation was applauded by a wide range of organizations and companies including Vote Solar, Solar Energy Industries Association (SEIA), Earthjustice, Sunrun and KDC Solar.