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BPU Puts Solar Program in the Shade

Date : Tue, 30 Apr 2013 12:22:11 -0400

For Immediate Release
April 30, 2013 Contact Jeff Tittel, 609-558-9100

BPU Puts Solar Program in the Shade Yesterday at the BPU meeting New Jersey's solar programs suffered a significant setback.The amount of utility solar and new projects were cut dramatically.

"New Jersey has been number two in the nation for solar for decades and now we are dropping.The BPU is accelerating our decline with the actions they took yesterday to cut back solar programs in New Jersey.This hurts our environment and economy.Even worse this is the best time to be promoting solar energy as we try to rebuild in a more sustainable way after Hurricane Sandy.Solar power will provide clean electric protecting us from climate disruption while helping guard against power outages and blackouts as we rebuild our coast," *said Jeff Tittel, Director of the New Jersey Sierra Club.* PSE&G's Solar for All program is only funding 45 megawatts (MW) of projects outright and an additional 97.5 MW through loans.This is about half of what was originally proposed.New Jersey is now 5^th in utility solar.We have gone backwards and will continue to go backwards.New Jersey Natural Gas is the only utility besides PSE&G doing a solar program.Elizabethtown, JCP&L, and Atlantic City Electric are not doing solar.

"PSE&G has been a leader in not only developing solar for itself but funding solar programs throughout New Jersey.Instead of 'Solar for All' the program will be "Solar for Some'.The Christie administration in secret negotiations pressured PSE&G to cut back their program in a major way.We believe this is part of the administration's ongoing reversal of its commitment to renewable energy," said Tittel. Of the 57 projects grandfathered under the Solar Advancement Act of 2012 totaling 640 MW, only 3 were approved yesterday.Two of the projects will produce 9.6 MW.54 were denied or deferred with only 21 projects eligible to apply under another program area.

"We passed this legislation last year to stabilize the market, not to use as an excuse to get rid of solar programs in New Jersey.Part of the reason is they want to limit solar on farmland but there is still no program or incentives to encourage solar on brownfields or landfills. Many of the projects that were killed yesterday were not on farmland," said Jeff Tittel. After close to two decades as second best in the nation, New Jersey has dropped to third in solar installations. New Jersey also has dropped from first in solar per capita to fourth. We have dropped from second to fourth in residential solar and second to fifth in utility solar under Governor Christie. Before Governor Christie we averaged 40 to 80 megawatts a month and last month we only installed 17 megawatts. Because of the Governor's actions including pulling out of RGGI and getting rid of our solar rebates he almost came close to crashing the solar market.

"Governor Christie's solar policies have dramatically hurt the market and we have dropped in national ranking because of it. This not only hurts the environment, but the 5,000 solar jobs that are dependent on these programs. This is at a time that we need more solar and renewable energy especially after Sandy. His policies have undermined the ability of New Jersey to rebound after Superstorm Sandy in a more sustainable and resilient way," said Jeff Tittel. The policies of the Christie Administration are why solar installation is dropped in New Jersey. Governor Christie has basically gotten rid of the solar rebates in our state.The Administration has eliminated the rebates for families and residents to put solar on their homes and have made it difficult for small projects to get Solar Renewable Energy Credits (SRECs).In addition the Governor has been diverting money that could have gone towards solar and offshore wind projects for his budget. Christie has taken $652 million this year and $730 million total from the Clean Energy Fund that would help to fund renewable energy projects. The Governor has given $2 billion to subsidies for natural gas power plants, while eliminating programs for solar and renewable energy. When the Governor announced we would be pulling out of RGGI and released his EMP there was a drop in the cost of solar credits.New Jersey was on track to meet the aggressive clean energy goals, but all of these factors will cost the state green jobs and economic stability, critical pollution reductions, and energy independence.

"The Governor has no problem giving a $2 billion subsidy to gas plants that encourage fracking and will add more air pollution.At the same time he cutting or eliminating programs for renewable energy," *said Jeff Tittel*. New Jersey must support and expand our clean energy targets and programs. We need legislation that will bring our Renewable Portfolio Standard back to 30% since New Jersey was on track to meet that goal and could potential go beyond that. A recent study by American Security Project found New Jersey could generate at least 31% of its electricity from renewable sources. However with Governor Christie's EMP and energy policies it has hurt New Jersey's residents and clean energy companies, undermining clean energy programs and economic growth, and will cost New Jersey jobs.

"A drop in solar is not only hurting the environment, but hurting our economy. The Governor by playing to the Tea Party and fossil fuel industry has not only hurt solar, but is hurting New Jersey at a time when we need the jobs and clean energy," stated Tittel.

-- 
Kate Millsaps
Conservation Program Coordinator
NJ Chapter of the Sierra Club
609-656-7612
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Received on 2013-04-30 09:22:11

New Jersey Sierra Club, 145 West Hanover St., Trenton, NJ 08618, USA
tel: 609 656 7612, fax 609 656 7618
or email Nicole Dallara, Outreach Coordinator, at nicole.dallara@sierraclub.org

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