New Jersey moves to end solar RECs, take next steps toward 100% renewables
- Regulators are continuing to develop and tweak New Jersey's solar programs, and their work is showing strong results: The Garden State ranks among the top 10 for home and business solar projects, and recently surpassed 100,000 installations, according to state regulators.
- The Board of Public Utilities (BPU) this week took steps to phase out the current Solar Renewable Energy Certificate (SREC) program, which will be closed when solar makes up 5.1% of the electricity sold by electric power suppliers and basic generation providers.
- BPU staff will soon release a straw proposal to provide additional guidance to the solar industry and get stakeholder feedback on the transition process.
The next phase of New Jersey's solar development will require a new initiative beyond SRECs, say officials, as part of the state's goals of moving to 100% renewable energy.
There had been some fears that the state's solar market was on the verge of a collapse as the SREC program prepared to wind down and legislatively-set cost caps on renewable energy created complications. The BPU's move this week follows legislation signed this year by Democratic New Jersey Gov. Phil Murphy to raise the state's renewable portfolio standard (RPS) to 50% by 2030.
In a statement, Murphy called New Jersey’s solar program a "critical component" of reaching 100% clean energy by 2050. Murphy signed the Clean Energy Act in May, requiring the BPU to quickly adopt new rules and regulations to set up the closing of the SREC program.
The BPU will determine in a future order when the 5.1% cap has been hit. BPU officials say they have already received "significant input" on the issue, and the board is "committed to ensuring that the transition occurs in a timely and orderly manner," so the state can continue to grow its solar industry.
"A thriving solar program is vitally important to helping the state reach its future clean energy goals, BPU President Joseph Fiordaliso said in a statement. “While we are required by law to close the SREC program, we are extremely optimistic that we will create a more effective and stronger solar energy program in its place."
The May legislation signed by Murphy went beyond the state's solar market to envision a broader evolution for the state. The law also provides support for the state's nuclear fleet, which has struggled to compete with natural gas.
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