Utilities, Regulation, Solar, Sourcing Renewables - July 21, 2017
New Jersey bill threatens SREC program
Solar renewable energy credits might begin to disappear from the New Jersey solar market under alterations made to a bill under consideration by the legislature in an attempt to revamp the state’s solar energy program.
The legislation, S-2276, would change the way the state promotes the use of solar power, according to a report by the New Jersey Spotlight. If passed, it would phase out the current SREC system over the next several years, with the state Board of Public Utilities stopping the acceptance of applications by June 2021.
A program to replace the current SREC system has yet to be determined. However, as the solar market continues to grow in New Jersey, critics have questioned why the current solar credit program has continued, the publication reported.
In addition to the removal of the solar credit program, the bill would increase the mandate for how much of the electricity provided by suppliers must come from solar power from 4.1% to 5.3% by 2022.
“Basically, it is a transitional piece until we figure out what the next administration wants to do,’’ Fred DeSanti, a lobbyist who represents the New Jersey Solar Energy Coalition and Alliance for Solar Choice, told the publication.
The current SREC program grants payments for electricity generated by solar panels paid for by utility customers in a surcharge on their monthly bill. The hypothetical new program would be employed to promote even more solar power generation than is created currently. It would also limit the time new solar panel owners could collect the existing credit to 10 years, a five year decrease from the current system.
As the New Jersey solar market was once the second largest in the country, the New Jersey Spotlight reports, a drop in recent years in SREC prices caused the state to lag behind. The overhaul of the solar program would help the state regain speed its solar energy production.
According to an analysis by Utility Dive, the bill suggests that the continuation of the current SREC program could result in a loss of $240 million in solar projects and 5,000 clean energy jobs for New Jersey. The current SREC program would “likely result in the loss of more than 120 megawatts of solar energy per year through 2021 if left unsupported by the necessary complement of an accelerated State renewable energy portfolio policy,” the language of the bill predicts.
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