BPU Moves Forward with Solar Transition Program
Today, the Board of Public Utilities considered amendments to Docket No. QX20030253 – In the Matter of a Rulemaking Proceeding to Amend the Renewable Portfolio Standard Rules and Create New Rules Establishing a Transition Incentive Program Pursuant to P.L. 2018, c.17 during a Special Public Meeting.
“BPU is moving forward with the interim Solar Transition Program (TRECs), which they approved in a previous meeting. This is an interim program that will allow some solar to move forward now that the old solar program ended. It is important for solar to continue in New Jersey, especially because the EMP calls for 34% of our electricity to come from clean energy sources by 2030, so it is even more important for the BPU to move forward with a replacement program,” said Jeff Tittel, Director of the New Jersey Sierra Club. “We need to come up with a new, more robust program that is more cost-effective and works for all of New Jersey.”
The NJ Sierra Club has suggested using rebates to stabilize the state’s solar programs. If we earmark $120 million a year for the next four years from the Societal Benefits Charge (“SBC”) towards solar rebates, we can keep the program running at least through 2022. Without some method of controlling legacy SREC costs, meeting the 50% renewable energy target by 2030 will be challenging, if not impossible.
“The transition program will allow some solar to move forward, but we need a long-term solution. We need to move quickly to develop a new program and come up with a new funding mechanism so that the solar program can come back. The original program with the cost cap wasn’t going to work, it was too high and too low. Now the cost cap will be evened out at $152 for the next 5 years. The TRECs survived because of averaging out the cost cap, but we need to get rid of the cost cap altogether,” said Tittel. “We don’t have caps on energy from coal, nuclear, oil, or gas. Having a cap on solar hurts renewable energy and favors fossil fuels.”
The Solar Energy Industries Association (SEIA) and Wood Mackenzie released the U.S. Solar Market Insight 2019 Year-in-Review report. New Jersey was ranked 9th in the nation for solar photovoltaic (PV) capacity, with 427.0 MWdc installed. New Jersey was ranked 8th in 2018 and 11th in 2017.
“BPU’s interim solar program will help provide move to a more robust program. We need to ensure that we can get this new program in place quickly to help create more jobs. Currently, New Jersey has around 7,000 solar jobs but at one time we had over 11,000. If we move forward on a new strong program, we can create even more jobs than that. It is important on moving forward with a sustainable program, especially if we want to meet the energy goals under the EMP. Solar energy in the state would make our environment cleaner, fight climate change, and increase green jobs,” said Jeff Tittel, Director of the New Jersey Sierra Club.