New Jersey legislature passes two bills aimed at boosting solar in the state

Pilesgrove solar farm in New Jersey. Image: Panda Funds

New Jersey’s legislator passed two bills yesterday that will increase solar deployment across the state, sending them to the desk of democratic governor Phil Murphy.  

Bill S2605 incentivises 1.5GW of behind-the-meter solar facilities through the SREC-II programme at the Board of Public Utilities (BPU), as well as 750MW of community solar by 2026.

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It also aims to incentivise a minimum of 1.5GW of utility-scale projects by 2026 and seeks to develop siting criteria for large scale solar projects.

The second bill, S3484, tasks the BPU to set up a programme to establish up to 200MW of solar on unpreserved farmland, allowing for agricultural activities beneath or around the modules. It encourages dual-use solar projects up to 10MW each and intends to set up a wider programme for dual-use solar.

In broad terms S2605 aims to “modify the State’s renewable energy portfolio standards”, according to New Jersey’s Senate’s environment and energy committee statement.

Utility solar is defined as more than 10MW and the BPU has been told to: “adopt rules and regulations establishing an annual competitive procurement program to develop utility-scale solar facilities capable of producing at least 1,500 megawatts of power by 2026.”

“Although the devil is in the details over what incentive levels the BPU ultimately determines, how the competitive solicitation is designed and whether reasonable siting criteria for solar projects prevail, these bills send a strong signal that the Garden State is committed to advancing solar energy,” said Scott Elias, senior manager of state affairs, mid-Atlantic for the Solar Energy Industries Association (SEIA).

Elias said S3484 would make New Jersey a “leader in dual-use solar” and would provided “financial security to farmers interested in diversifying their income streams”.

“These developments are positive news for New Jersey’s clean energy progress, and we urge Governor Murphy to sign these bills into law,” he added.

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