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Smith, Bateman Bill to Expand Solar Energy Development Passes Committee

Trenton – In an effort to expand the use of renewable energy across New Jersey, legislation to increase the capacity of solar energy development passed the Senate Environment and Energy Committee today. The bill is sponsored by Senate Environment and Energy Committee Chair Senator Bob Smith and Senator Christopher Bateman. 


“In order to achieve our renewable energy goals and become a carbon-neutral state in the coming decades, we need to greatly expand our use of clean energy across New Jersey. We cannot achieve this if we do not rapidly development our capacity for solar energy,” said Senator Smith (D-Middlesex/Somerset). “To do this responsibly, it’s vital that we avoid energy costs from rising for every day customers. Utility-scale solar energy is the most cost-effective way of producing solar energy in New Jersey, and the establishment of a proven program would help build trust with consumers fearing higher energy costs.”


“The utility-scale solar program bill will establish a dramatic increase in renewable energy production as New Jersey continues to set the standard for solar and sustainable power in the nation,” said Bateman (R-Hunterdon/Mercer/Middlesex/Somerset). “The state is targeting an ambitious but attainable goal of eliminating our energy dependence on fossil fuels, and managed responsibly as directed by this legislation, we can increase generation and retain affordability for our residents.”


The Board of Public Utilities (BPU) would adopt a set of rules and regulations for a competitive procurement program to develop these utility-scale solar facilities in order to create the most cost-effective agreement for consumers. While New Jersey already has incentives for solar energy development, this bill would facilitate the development of large, utility scale solar facilities by awarding long-term contracts to large developers. Electric public utilities in the State would be required to enter into power purchase agreements to purchase energy, capacity, and Class 1 renewable energy certificates from the winning bidders. These facilities would add 375 megawatts of solar generation each year for four years. A portion of the revenue collected from these facilities would help fund the conservation of farmland and open space in New Jersey.


According to the 2019 Energy Master Plan, New Jersey’s goal is to secure 50 percent of the State’s electricity supply from renewable energy by 2030 and 100 percent by 2050, while also being the most cost-effective for consumers. This would mean the state would need to develop enough solar energy facilities to equal 34 percent of New Jersey’s energy needs by 2050.


The bill, S-2605, was released from committee by a vote 3-0-1.