- Lawmakers in New Jersey are considering a bill to deploy more solar panels in the state, aligning its goals with extended federal tax credits, while also developing a commission to study the industry and make recommendations on its future to the Governor and lawmakers, NJ Spotlight reports.
- NJ Spotlight reports the bill has already been passed by the Senate, and a House committee is expected to consider it today.
- Similarly, the Senate has passed a bill that would target an 80% renewable standard by 2050; the House is still considering that as well.
New Jersey is experiencing a power mix shift, seen by PSEG's recent announcement this week to shutter 1.2 GW of coal-fired generation and replacing it by natural gas. Once complete, the decision means nuclear and natural gas will make up the majority of New Jersey's power mix, with a small amount of renewable energy mixed in. But it appears some lawmakers would like to see more renewables if they get their way.
New Jersey has had a boom-bust solar industry in the past, and lawmakers would like to avoid a repeat of that scenario. NJ Spotlight reminds readers that five years ago the solar industry crashed when the price of solar renewable energy certificates fell, resulting in a contraction of the sector and job losses.
“We need a short-term fix for solar,’’ Doug O’Malley, director of Environment New Jersey, told the site. “That’s what this clearly is, but we need a long-term fix on renewable energy.’’
The legislation before the House does consider long-term policy changes in the solar industry.
The biill, S., 2276, acknowledges that New Jersey’s current statutory solar renewable energy portfolio standards are likely to result in the loss of more than 120 MW of solar annually for the next five years, unless the state accelerates its policies. That lost construction could result in over $240 million per year in lost solar renewable energy projects, representing 5,000 lost clean energy jobs annually.
According to the legislation, it is "appropriate and necessary to accelerate the State’s current statutory solar renewable energy portfolio standards to match the federal program through 2021. The bill would also create a commission "to study the solar energy industry and make recommendations to the Governor and the Legislature regarding future changes in solar energy policy."
New Jersey is also considering moving its renewable goals from 22% to 80% by 2050, beginning with an 11% requirement in 2017 and increasing by 10% every five years. Sen. Bob Smith sponsored both the RPS and solar bills. A similar measure passed the Senate last year but then failed to advance.