The New Jersey State Assembly has passed a bill that would increase the state’s solar energy requirements under its renewable portfolio standard (RPS) program, as well as allow additional facilities to qualify for virtual net metering.
The State Senate passed an earlier version of the bill last month by a vote of 23-8, and a modified version cleared the State Assembly Monday by a vote of 68-4.
Under the bill, utilities would be required to obtain 2.05% of their electricity sales from solar by 2014 – a mandate that would be ramped up on a tiered basis to 4.10% by 2028.
New Jersey’s current RPS requires that each utility obtain 22.5% of its power from renewables by 2021, and features a tiered solar carve-out of 306 GWh beginning in 2011 and increasing to 5,316 GWh by 2026.
“We’re hoping that it will create an environment for more long-term contracts at SREC price levels that will allow projects to get financed,” Naik, co-owner and principal at Old Bridge, N.J.-based solar integrator GeoGenix, explains. “Today, with high electricity [prices] in New Jersey (10.97¢ – 11.90¢) and the current cost of the technology and systems, our model shows that you need $250 SRECs (Solar Renewable Energy Credit) in a 10-year long-term contract to make financial sense for a 500 kW commercial system.”
According to the Mid-Atlantic Solar Energy Industries Association, there are more than 10,000 New Jerseyans working in the solar industry.
The legislation also would make public projects (i.e., solar installations on municipal buildings, schools, etc.) eligible for virtual net metering, which would allow them to use solar credits to pay for the power used by non-connected buildings under their jurisdiction.
The bill now awaits the approval of Gov. Chris Christie (R), who is expected to sign the legislation into law.