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Smith Renewable Energy Bills Clear Committee

Trenton – In an effort to expand the use of solar renewable energy across New Jersey, the Senate Environment and Energy Committee passed a series of bills today sponsored by Senator Bob Smith to increase the state’s solar energy capacity.

“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 develop our capacity for solar energy,” said Senator Smith (D-Middlesex/Somerset), Chair of the Senate Environment and Energy Committee. “New Jersey is in a great position to further develop solar energy, whether through utility-scale projects, residential buildings or on the roofs of warehouses. We can improve upon what already exists, while also avoiding higher energy costs. New Jersey has the capability to become the ‘Saudi Arabia of solar’.”

The first bill, S-2605, would establish the successor to the Solar Renewable Energy Certificate Program (SREC) in the Board of Public Utilities (BPU) called the SREC-II, and create a competitive solicitation for grid-scale solar projects. The goal of the competitive solicitation process would be to incentivize the construction of at least 1,500 megawatts of new large solar facilities by 2026. The bill would also establish criteria for large-scale solar projects that would protect environmentally sensitive areas. The bill was released from committee by a vote of 3-1.

The second bill, S-3504, would require that new warehouses constructed on or after July 1, 2022 be solar-ready buildings. The 2019 Energy Master Plan requires the state to develop 17 gigawatts of solar power by 2035 and 32 gigawatts by 2050. In doing so, the State would add at least 400 megawatts of power each year through 2030. Requiring new warehouses to be solar-ready would discourage the development of solar facilities on the limited protected farmland and open-space in New Jersey and encourage greater development on large warehouse rooftops. The bill was released from committee by a vote of 3-1.

The third bill, S-3667, would codify major energy goals in the state’s 2019 Energy Master Plan into law to prevent them from being weakened in the future. According to the Energy Master Plan, New Jersey must generate 35 percent of its energy from renewable sources by 2025, 50 percent by 2030, and 100 percent by 2050. The bill was released from committee by a vote of 3-1.