Last week, the New Jersey legislature approved bipartisan legislation to keep solar installations on track in the state. The bill is now awaiting approval from the governor. At issue, as in so many other cases, is the net metering cap. The legislation would raise the cap enough to allow New Jersey to reach the nearly 300 MW of new solar it is projected to add this year according to the U.S. Solar Market Insight Report, which was complied by GTM Research and the Solar Energy Industries Association (SEIA). This is less than solar advocates were hoping for, but enough for the installations to stay on track for the year.
“We appreciate the thoughtful way that the legislature addressed this issue,” said SEIA President and CEO Rhone Resch. “Even though we would have liked to see the caps lifted higher, we’re encouraged by the broad, bipartisan support shown for solar by the legislature. New Jersey is on pace to install nearly 300 MW of new solar capacity this year alone. Clearly, smart public policies like the solar Investment Tax Credit (ITC), Renewable Portfolio Standards (RPS) and NEM are providing a tremendous boost to the state’s economy, generating hundreds of millions of dollars a year in economic activity.”
Last year New Jersey installed 240 MW of solar. The 300 MW represents a 20 percent increase for 2015. In Q1 alone, the state installed 18.4 MW of residential solar, 13.7 MW of commercial solar, and 6.3 MW of utility-scale solar. This represents an investment of $103 million in Q1 2015 and over $694 million since Q1 2014, according to the report.
“Because of the strong demand for solar energy, thousands of new, good-paying jobs have been added in New Jersey, benefiting the state’s economy and environment,” said Resch. This includes over 513 solar companies employing over 7,200 people, comprised of manufacturers, contractors, project developers, distributors, and installers.
As in other states such as Nevada, the legislature in New Jersey has been able to compromise enough to ensure that the new solar installations for 2015 will not be adversely affected. Hopefully, as the news of solar’s real financial benefits to utilities and their customers becomes more widely known, net metering caps will become a thing of the past.