The Solar Energy Industries Association (SEIA) today applauded two decisions by the New Jersey Board of Public Utilities (BPU) that will help to expand solar energy development within the state. The BPU voted to expand two existing solar programs by Public Service Electric and Gas Company (PSE&G) – the Solar Loan III program and the Solar 4 All Extension program.
These two programs will support long-term contracts and development on landfills and brownfields.
Through its Solar Loan III program, PSE&G will provide up to $193 million in loans for 97.5 megawatts (MW) of new solar systems throughout its service territory. The Solar Loan III program promotes stability within the SREC market by providing 10-year loans for Solar Renewable Energy Credits (SRECs) produced by solar systems – terms which are largely absent from a market dominated by spot transactions and short-term contracts. The state has an interest in promoting an orderly investment environment, since market stability reduces investment costs, improves the long-term viability of businesses, promotes job stability and contributes to the attainment of the state’s RPS goals.
Through the Solar 4 All Extension program, PSE&G will own and operate solar generation, with 42 of the approved 45 MW to be built on landfills and brownfields. The BPU’s decision to move forward with the Solar 4 All Extension, at a scale that is greatly diminished from the utility’s original 136 MW plan, responds to the clear policy directive to encourage solar development on these underutilized lands, while also mitigating the negative impacts of a regulated entity operating in a competitive market.
“Today’s decision by the BPU will certainly help New Jersey reach the goals that Governor Christie laid out in his Energy Master Plan,” said Katie Bolcar Rever, Director for Mid-Atlantic States at SEIA. “First, it begins to address the volatility in the SREC market by providing for 97.5MW of long-term SREC financing – for about 13% of the additional market in the next three years. Secondly, by allowing PSE&G to invest directly in solar projects on brownfields and landfills, the BPU is placing a high priority on solar development on these lands. However, we should keep in mind that utility-direct investment is just one way in which regulators and policymakers can direct solar development in New Jersey. ”
In 2012, New Jersey enacted the Solar Advancement Act to address imbalances within the state’s SREC market. Solar companies throughout the state have faced growing challenges as a severe and persistent oversupply of SRECs led to the steep drop in the value of SRECs. The implementation and effects of the legislation are still playing out in the market.
“Last year, New Jersey policymakers showed us that they recognize the importance of the solar industry to New Jersey’s economy, and they’re willing to take the steps necessary to correct significant imbalances within the market,” Rever explained. “We have a great deal of confidence in the future of the New Jersey solar industry, and the extension of Solar Loan III and ‘right-sizing’ of Solar 4All Extension simply adds to that confidence.”
New Jersey is currently ranked 3rd among states in terms of total installed solar capacity, according to the latest U.S. Solar Market Insight report. The state was responsible for nearly one-third of the nation’s non-residential (government, business, and nonprofit) solar installations last year. In total, more than 415 megawatts (MW) of solar was added to the state’s power grid in 2012, a 33 percent increase over 2011 (313 MW). New Jersey is the third state in the nation to the hit the 1GW solar mark, after California and Arizona.
Established in 1974, the Solar Energy Industries Association® is the national trade association of the U.S. solar energy industry. Through advocacy and education, SEIA and its 1,000 member companies are building a strong solar industry to power America. As the voice of the industry, SEIA works to make solar a mainstream and significant energy source by expanding markets, removing market barriers, strengthening the industry and educating the public on the benefits of solar energy. www.seia.org
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