Clean energy advocates rejoiced as legislation was passed today in New Jersey that will support the development of a massive amount of renewable energy, specifically community solar, energy storage, offshore wind and energy efficiency. The bill also props up nuclear power in the state with the establishment of zero-emission certificates.A-3723 – the Renewable Energy bill – takes several critical steps to improve and expand New Jersey’s renewable energy programs. Programs include:
- Renewable Energy Standard: This establishes one of the most ambitious renewable energy standards in the country by requiring 21 percent of the energy sold in the state be from Class I renewable energy sources by 2020; 35 percent by 2025 and 50 percent by 2030. A cap on costs provides additional protections for consumers.
- Solar: This provision reforms the state’s solar program by making near-term structural changes to ensure that the program is sustainable over the long term.
- Offshore Wind: The bill codifies the Governor’s goal of 3,500 MW of offshore wind by 2030. It also reinstates an expired program to provide tax credits for offshore wind manufacturing activities.
- Energy Efficiency: This requires each utility to implement energy efficiency measures to reduce electricity usage by 2 percent and natural gas usage by 0.75 percent.
- Community Solar: The bill establishes a community solar energy program to allow all New Jersey residents to benefit from solar energy.
- Energy Storage: This provision codifies the Governor’s goal of achieving 600 MW of energy storage by 2021 and 2,000 MW by 2030.
The American Wind Energy Association hailed Governor Murphy for his bold action.
“Today Governor Murphy sent an unambiguous signal that New Jersey is ready for clean energy investment that will lead to good jobs and a more prosperous economy,” said Tom Kiernan, CEO of AWEA.
AWEA said in a statement that New Jersey has now become an energy policy leader joining a group of states with 50 percent or greater renewable energy standards, including California, New York, Oregon, Hawaii, Vermont and the District of Columbia. Momentum is growing with several other 50 percent RPS (renewable portfolio standard) policies under consideration in Maryland, Delaware and states in New England.
These policy targets are achievable and attract economic growth to states that pass them because renewable energy, including wind power, has become mainstream and increasingly competitive with advancements in technology and falling costs.
Offshore wind’s ability to reliably generate large amounts of clean energy near major cities means it is poised to scale up in coastal states like New Jersey. At 3.5 GW, the state’s new offshore wind commitment is the highest in the nation.
The Energy Storage Association (ESA) also applauded the governor for signing the new bill, saying in a statement that Gov. Murphy “joins leaders from California, New York, Massachusetts, Oregon, Nevada and Arizona who are enacting policies to encourage energy storage today.”
The legislation directs the state Board of Public Utilities to study the benefits and costs of energy storage, and to develop a plan to attract energy storage companies to New Jersey.
This effort to increase energy storage capacity in New Jersey will help lower costs for ratepayers and integrate more wind, solar power and distributed energy onto the grid, said the ESA. In addition, this storage will provide back-up power to critical facilities and enhance the resiliency of the grid during hurricanes and other extreme weather events.
Bill S-2313 establishes a Zero Emissions Certificate (ZEC) program to maintain New Jersey’s nuclear energy supply. The new law gives the Board of Public Utilities the ability to engage outside experts to analyze nuclear power plant financial information and applications, and to adjust ZEC payments as necessary to meet a plant’s actual financial need.
New Jersey joins New York and Illinois as states that support nuclear energy with ZECs.