It’s official! New Jersey has increased its renewable portfolio standard (RPS) to 50 percent by 2030, with a solar carve out of 5.1 percent by 2021. The newly elected Governor Murphy signed the legislation into effect on May 23rd only months after Governor Christie pocket-vetoed previous pro-solar legislation. With this new legislation, New Jersey, which has long been a leader in solar energy deployment, will join other leaders such as California and D.C. with a 50 percent renewable energy goal, keeping the bar high for states that look to follow.
This pro-clean energy legislation not only increased the RPS, but also set up new tools to help all consumers be a part of meeting these renewable goals. The legislation will jumpstart community solar in the Garden State by putting in place a three-year pilot program that will result in the creation of a permanent program at the end of the initial pilot term. The legislation’s community solar mandate puts specific emphasis on requiring that access to the program be extended to low and moderate-income residents, working to make clean energy access more equitable across the state.
In addition to helping make the production side of the New Jersey grid cleaner, the legislation puts in place steps towards reducing energy usage to ensure a cleaner, leaner grid. Per the legislation, public utilities shall work to implement programs to reduce the use of electricity and natural gas, with an ultimate goal of 2 percent reduction in consumption within five years.
Beyond these nearer-term goals, the legislation also calls on the board of public utilities (BPU) to develop a plan for next steps once the 5.1 percent solar carve out is reached. The BPU has been tasked with adopting regulations within the next 180 days for how the current SREC program will phase out once its 5.1 percent goal is achieved. In addition to planning for closing out the program, the BPU needs to devise how to modify or replace the existing SREC program after reaching the 5.1 percent to ensure continued growth in the solar market after the transition.
All of these pieces will work together to promote New Jersey’s Energy Master Plan, which will strive to lower energy costs and protect the environment through a focus on clean energy.
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