New Jersey Clean Energy bills languish on Governor’s desk

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If New Jersey is the 'Saudi Arabia of parking lots', let's get more solar canopies installed.

Just over a month ago, the New Jersey State Legislature passed a trio of clean energy bills focusing on sweeping Renewable Portfolio Standard (RPS) increases along with solar and storage initiatives, reviving an Atlantic City offshore wind farm, and a nuclear bailout.

Known as A3723, the first bill establishes an energy storage goal of 600MW by 2021 and 2GW by 2030 and increases the New Jersey RPS to 35% by 2025 and 50% by 2030. Also, the solar carve-out or solar renewable portfolio standard is increased to 5.1% by 2021 while reducing solar alternative compliance payments (SACP) over future years. The New Jersey Board of Public Utilities (NJBPU) is further directed to close the existing Solar Renewable Energy Certificate (SREC) program upon achievement of the 5.1% goal and modifying or replacing the SREC program to encourage further efficient development of solar renewable generating sources. And last, the bill establishes a Community Solar Energy Pilot Program that is set to become permanent no later than 36 months after the NJBPU adopts regulations for the pilot program.

The New Jersey Sierra Club finds fault with the Clean Energy bill (A3723) on concerns about the solar cost cap and opposes both the nuclear subsidies bill (S2313) and the Atlantic City offshore wind project bill (S1217) specifically.

Thus far, New Jersey Governor Phil Murphy has not signed any of the above legislation. I contacted the State of New Jersey, Office of the Governor, and asked about the clean energy legislation status and if the Governor had any concerns about them. On the phone, the spokesperson said: “They are on his desk, and we don't know when or why.”

For each bill, Governor Murphy has the option to sign it, conditionally veto it and return the bill to the legislature for changes, or veto the bill outright. Each of bills passed with overwhelming support, so the New Jersey Senate and Assembly could elect to override any hypothetical Governor Murphy veto. Timing is everything, and rumours indicate the Governor may sign the Clean Energy bill towards the end of May, perhaps along with the other two more controversial bills. In fact, a bill becomes law in New Jersey after 45 days if the Governor takes no action although there are caveats about how the days are counted.

Earlier this month, the NJBPU announced New Jersey's solar industry had surpassed 90000 solar projects and more than 2.4GW of solar PV installations across the Garden State over the past 18 years. This includes 3137 solar projects completed in the first three months of 2018.

“Governor Murphy’s Administration is extremely committed to enhancing renewable and reliable energy and solar energy is a big piece of that puzzle,” said NJBPU President Joseph L. Fiordaliso. “I am proud that the NJBPU has contributed to making New Jersey a national leader in solar energy in the success of these initiatives.”

I did not know “New Jersey has been called the Saudi Arabia of parking lots”. Governor Murphy, let’s put up some more solar canopies on our concrete paradise to help power EVs while at least maintaining tree neutrality, of course!

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