TRENTON – The Senate Environment and Energy Committee released S1925, which would attempt to save the current solar renewable energy credit system.
Lawmakers warned this afternoon that not doing anything can further stifle the once-burgeoning industry, preventing future solar energy production companies from setting up shop in the Garden State.
“Entities were depending on a viable SREC market that is no longer viable,” said Sen. Bob Smith, (D-17), of Piscataway, who co-sponsored the bill with Senate President Stephen Sweeney. “Right now we have a crisis. We’re all trying to keep the solar industry alive.”
Smith said some of the technical points that were made during testimony will be incorporated into the bill to further improve it.
The bill would accomplish several things. They include:
*directing the Board of Public Utilities to set up a program to provide SRECs to owners of solar power electric generation projects located on a brownfield or a sanitary landfill facility.
*putting in place rules that prevailing wage rates would apply to solar projects.
*establishing a solar registration program;
*extend the scope of “Class I renewable energy” producers to include small-scale hydropower facilities with a capacity of three megawatts or less that are put into service after the effective date of the bill.
*set rules to requiring resource recovery facilities to follow environmental standards, such as federal “Clean Air Act” requirements.
*change the solar alternative compliance payment (“SACP”) schedule from a 15-year schedule with obligations set by the board to a statutorily established schedule with specifically prescribed SACP values for each energy year.
*revise the multi-year schedule of statewide solar gigawatt hour requirements applicable to electric power suppliers and basic generation providers between years 2014 and 2028. The requirements are stated in percentages, instead of being enumerated in gigawatt hours, from 1.832% in 2014 to 3.730% in 2028 and every energy year thereafter.
*give the BPU the ability to determine whether a provider or supplier is complying with annual renewable portfolio standards within a period of no less than 120 days following the end of an energy year, and to make any adjustments if there are any shortfalls.
At the jam-packed, three-hour hearing, several owners of energy companies testified in support of the bill, saying it would help keep New Jersey in the forefront of a solar energy industry. However, opponents, mostly business groups, opposed the legislation, saying the state had already subsidized the industry for so long, and it’s time it wean itself from doing so.