Senate Approves Legislation To Promote Clean Energy

Trenton – Legislation sponsored by Senate Environment and Energy Committee Chairman Bob Smith, Senate President Steve Sweeney and Senator Jeff Van Drew to promote the use and development of clean energy in New Jersey was approved by the Senate today.

The bill, S-2314, includes a wide range of initiatives to expand renewable energy, including an enhanced solar energy portfolio, a community solar program to encourage investment in solar energy, a requirement that gas and electric utilities undertake energy efficiency programs, a requirement for the BPU to study energy storage and a renewed offshore wind program, among other provisions.

“Clean energy provides benefits to the economy, the environment and public health,” said Senator Smith. “This is a major initiative that will continue to move New Jersey forward with a diverse supply of clean energy use and the modern technologies that will meet our energy needs and reduce the ill effects of carbon-based energy sources.”

“Diversification of our energy market is not an option, it is a must,” said Senator Sweeney. “We need to make sure New Jersey is leader in clean energy, generating jobs and economic activity in a growing sector of the modern economy.”

“Preserving our natural resources and protecting the environment are among the top priorities that require timely actions,” said Senator Van Drew. “Clean energy is essential for clean water, air and land. This is an ambitious effort that will serve immediate needs and benefit generations to come.”

Companion legislation, S-2313, to support energy diversity by protecting the viability of nuclear energy, was also approved by the Senate today.

The clean energy bill includes:

  • Solar Renewable Portfolio Standard: The bill would accelerate the solar renewable portfolio standard from 3.47 percent to 5.1 percent by 2021, creating demand for new solar. The bill would require the BPU to complete a study that evaluates how to modify or replace the SREC program. The bill would also reduce the solar alternative compliance payment, which serves as a cap on the price of the solar subsidy.
  • Offshore Wind Power: The bill would update and expand the offshore wind law that was enacted in 2010 but never implemented.  The bill would require that BPU’s offshore wind certificate program to support at least 3,500 megawatts.  The law previously called for 1,100 megawatts. The bill would also establish job training programs for manufacturing and servicing wind energy equipment.
  • Community Solar: The bill would require the BPU to adopt a “Solar Energy Investment Pilot Program” to permit electric utility customers to participate in a solar energy project. The customers would receive a credit equal to the solar electric use.
  • Energy Efficiency: The BPU would require each electric and gas public utility to reduce the use of electricity or gas by its customers, achieving within four years reductions in use of electricity of two percent of the average annual usage in the prior three years.  Each gas public utility would be required to achieve annual reductions in the use of electricity of .75 percent within four years.
  • Renewable Energy Portfolio: The bill would increase the Class I (primarily solar and wind) renewable energy portfolio standard so that by 2020, 21 percent of the electricity sold in this State is Class I; 35 percent by 2025, and 50 percent by 2030. There will be a cap on the cost to ratepayers.
  • Energy Storage: The bill recognizes that energy storage technology is essential if New Jersey is going to transition away from fossil fuels to renewable energy by requiring the BPU and the utilities conduct an energy storage analysis and submit it to the Governor and the Legislature. Within six months of the report, the board would initiate a process for achieving the goal of 600 megawatts of energy storage by 2021 and 2,000 megawatts by 2030.

The bill was approved with a vote of 29-8.