Community Solar, Rooftop, Solar

Pro-Solar Legislative Actions: Progress in New Jersey, Setback in South Carolina

Legislation that would support solar energy deployments met with success in New Jersey this week following a blow for other pro-solar legislation that was making headway in South Carolina.

New Jersey’s Assembly and Senate yesterday passed a bill that, among other things, accelerates the state’s solar renewable energy portfolio. Last week, South Carolina’s House passed a bill that would have eliminated the state’s current net metering cap for rooftop solar, but the legislation was defeated on April 10.

The Solar Energy Industries Association (SEIA) said the bill in South Carolina “was killed in the chamber after opponents used sleight of hand to force a second vote that required two-thirds of members to approve the bill in order for it to advance.”

“We are deeply upset that the jobs of 3,000 South Carolina workers are now at risk due to a technicality, especially after the House voted with a clear majority to move the bill forward,” Sean Gallagher, SEIA vice president of state affairs, said in a statement. “We urge the state Senate to take up this legislation. It is vital to protecting South Carolina jobs and giving consumers the choice they deserve to lower their energy bills.”

For New Jersey, however, the news is much better.

The bill that now heads to Gov. Phil Murphy’s desk for consideration moves up the schedule to require electric power suppliers and basic generation service providers to provide a greater percentage of solar energy each year, according to a statement from the Senate Budget and Appropriations Committee. It culminates at 5.1 percent by 2021 and then gradually reduces the schedule thereafter until 2033. The bill requires the Board of Public Utilities to complete a study to evaluate how to modify or replace the current solar renewable energy credit program to encourage solar deployment.

Related: From Residential to Utility-Scale, Solar Wins in Recent State-Level Actions

In addition, the bill increases the state renewable portfolio standard to 50 percent by 2030, and enables a community solar program, giving consideration to customers in multifamily homes and with low-to-moderate incomes.

“If done right, a strong community solar program can be a transformational tool to help expand solar access in an intentionally equitable way to communities that have long been underserved,” Luis Torressenior legislative representative for Earthjustice, said in a statement. “Earthjustice looks forward to working with our coalition partners to ensure that the New Jersey Board of Public Utilities heeds the call of this legislation, once it is signed into law, to ensure that low to moderate income families are robustly served by community solar projects.”

Lead image credit: CC0 Creative Commons | Pixabay