The Solar Act
Solar Act of 2012
On July 23, 2012, L. 2012, c. 24 (“Solar Act”) was signed into law by Governor Chris Christie. The Solar Act amends certain aspects of the statute governing generation, interconnection, and financing of renewable energy. Among other actions, the Solar Act requires the New Jersey Board of Public Utilities (“Board”) to conduct proceedings to establish new standards and to develop new programs to implement the directives. On October 4, 2012, the Board directed Board staff (“Staff”) to initiate proceedings and convene a public stakeholder process to fulfill the directives of the Solar Act. Dkt. No. EO12090832V (“October 4 Order”).
The Solar Act changes several provisions within the state's Renewable Portfolio Standard (RPS) regulations as well as the Net Metering and Interconnection regulations towards stabilizing the SREC market and implementing policies expressed in the State Energy Master Plan. The legislation requires the Board to conduct several proceedings to accomplish these directives.
An investigation by the Board of approaches to mitigate solar development volatility must be completed by July 23, 2014. Staff initiated the discussion during a public hearing held November 9, 2012 with a review of the solar market development data currently collected and distributed by the Board’s staff and NJCEP contractors. Staff engaged public stakeholders on the definition of solar development volatility and potential measures to mitigate solar development volatility before engaging a consultant to expand on the public record established by analyzing the various options propounded by stakeholders as well as measures taken in other states and internationally.
The Board was required to adopt net metering aggregation standards by April 19, 2013. Staff discussed the technical aspects of this section of the new law with the Net Metering and Interconnection Standards Working Group with a request for public comments on key sections of the law being issued before a special adoption of the rules.
Certain grid-supply projects must receive Board approval of a designation as “connected to the distribution system” in order to receive Solar Renewable Energy Certificates (SRECs) useful in the NJ Renewable Portfolio Standard. The Act provides the Board discretion in approving solar on certain farmland under subsection s while it required the development of an escrow and application process for other grid-supply projects in EY14, 15 and 16 under subsection q and requires the Board to determine that relevant criteria are met for projects proposed in EY17 and beyond under subsection r in order to qualify for SRECs.
The Board established a program to provide SRECs to owners of solar electric power generation facilities certified as being located on a brownfield, historic fill area, or properly closed landfill in consultation with the NJDEP and NJEDA and after public comment and public hearing by January 19, 2013. For projects certified under this section, the Board has approved EDC SREC based finance programs to serve as a financial incentive to cover additional costs.
The Board requested public comment and discussed in the public hearing held November 9, 2012 whether to establish a program to provide to owners of net metered projects three megawatts or greater a financial incentive to supplement SRECs “to further the goal of improving the economic competitiveness of commercial and industrial customers”. The decided in an Order dated January 2013 that given the rapid growth in this market segment that no additional incentive was warranted.
Subsection (u) of the Solar Act
And subsection (u) of the Solar Act provides that "[n]o more than 180 days after the [effective date of the Solar Act] the Board shall complete a proceeding to establish a registration program...[which will require] owners of solar...projects...to make periodic milestone filings with the Board[.]" Id. at 48:3-87(u)
- Board Order establishing a Certification Program pursuant to Subsection t. and finding that existing rules satisfy the Subsection u.
Subsection (w) of the Solar Act
In the Matter of the Implementation of P.L. 2012, c. 24, N.J.S.A. 48:3-87(w), A Proceeding to Consider the Need for a Program to Provide a Financial Incentive to Supplement Solar Renewable Energy Certificates for Net Metered Projects Greater than Three Megawatts. Docket No. EO12090863V.