- Former New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie, whose term ended Tuesday, left office without signing into law a measure to raise the state's solar energy targets, potentially leaving the industry vulnerable to another collapse.
- The state's current target is 4.1% by 2028, but New Jersey is expected to reach that mark later on this year. Senate Bill 2276 would have raised the state's solar energy targets to 5.3% by 2022.
- The "pocket veto" means the legislation would have to restart the process. Christie's successor, Gov. Phil Murphy, is a Democrat who campaigned on environmental issues and is expected to be an ally to the solar industry.
The New Jersey Senate was up against a deadline when it passed SB 2276 as the legislative session wound down. But because the bill was finalized within 10 days of the end of the session, it means Gov. Christie settled the bill's fate when he left office without signing it. Called a "pocket veto," it means lawmakers cannot vote to override the denial, and now the legislation must restart the process.
According to GTM Research and Solar Energy Industries Association (SEIA), the state's solar industry supports 6,000 workers. But the state's industry has seen boom-bust cycles before, guided by its solar energy target and solar renewable energy credit prices. The Garden State saw a solar boom in 2011, but fell on rough times when prices for the credits came tumbling down.
The vetoed proposal would have enabled state’s solar industry to keep growing and adding jobs, according to SEIA Vice President of State Affairs Sean Gallagher. Lobbying for the failed bill, Gallagher called SB 2276 a "crucial short-term fix."
Gov. Murphy campaigned on a slate of progressive ideas, including raising the minimum wage. In his inaugural address this week, he said the state would do its part to combat climate change and support clean energy.
"A stronger and fairer New Jersey accepts the reality of climate change, invests aggressively in renewable energy, and upholds the goals of the Paris Climate Accord," he said, according to a transcript.