The recent passage, and pending signing, of A3723/S2314 will do several important things to strengthen New Jersey’s market for solar. It raises the state’s net metering cap so that solar homeowners receive fair credit for the electricity they generate with solar. It increases New Jersey’s renewable portfolio standard to ensure solar is properly valued. This will enable more solar to be built in the state. Perhaps most importantly, it empowers people who previously were unable to benefit from solar to do so through community solar.
Community solar allows anyone with an electric bill to subscribe to a share of an off-site solar installation. The electricity from that subscription is credited against the subscriber’s electric bill the same way solar homeowners receive credit for the electricity their rooftop system generates. Community solar allows people who rent, or who have roofs that are incompatible with solar to benefit from solar energy.
The new law charges the Board of Public Utilities (BPU), the agency responsible for regulating electricity in the state, with developing implementation rules for community solar. The rulemaking process will include an opportunity for public comment. This is our opportunity to ensure the rules the BPU enacts lead to a community solar program that benefits all New Jersey residents.
While the final rules have yet to be implemented, we do have a fair idea of how the program will look based on the legislation that was passed. The community solar program will begin as a three-year pilot. The BPU will convert it into a permanent program once the three-year window is complete. For the pilot, anyone who is a current customer of an electric utility to participate in community solar, provided the solar project is producing electricity in the service territory where the subscriber is a customer. Individual projects are limited to a 5 MW capacity. This is enough electricity to provide power to about 1,000 homes.
The BPU has 210 days to adopt rules for the community solar pilot once the bill is signed. We should see the first community solar projects going up in the state in 2019. To learn more about community solar in New Jersey watch our webinar.