September 25, 2011

NJ: Norcross bill to create jobs through solar project development clears senate committee

Legislation sponsored by Senator Donald Norcross (D-Camden/Gloucester) to provide greater opportunities for the development of solar facilities in New Jersey by streamlining state rules governing the industry was approved yesterday by the Senate Environment and Energy Committee.

"This bill will create good-paying construction jobs, as well as green jobs for our residents, at a time when they are desperately needed. It will allow stalled projects to move forward so we can begin to produce more clean solar energy," said Senator Norcross. "New Jersey has been a leader in solar production and this initiative will help to keep us on the cutting edge."

The legislation will help projects such as the one proposed at the Gloucester Marine Terminal in Gloucester City which with 1.1 million square feet of expected solar panels would be the largest rooftop solar installation in North America become a reality.

The bill (S2942) would facilitate the market for solar renewable energy certificates (SRECs) by clarifying that a solar facility connected to the electric grid at up to 69 kilovolts can earn the certificates. Currently, in order for a facility to be eligible to earn SRECs, it must be "connected to the distribution system." However, the BPU defines the term differently for each electric public utility. A solar project in the Atlantic City Electric service territory, for example, is currently required to connect to the utility's 12 kilovolt local distribution lines, which has led to a bottleneck. The bill would allow solar installations to connect to the utility's 69 kilovolt lines and still be eligible for SRECs, thereby freeing up opportunities for more projects to move forward.

The measure now heads to the Senate Budget and Appropriations Committee for consideration.

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