Smart public policies like the solar Investment Tax Credit (ITC), Renewable Portfolio Standards (RPS) and NEM are providing a tremendous boost to the state’s economy, generating hundreds of millions of dollars a year in economic activity.
WASHINGTON, D.C. - If approved and signed into law by Gov. Chris Christie, bipartisan legislation approved this week by the New Jersey Legislature will help to keep New Jersey solar installations on track for 2015. The state is projected to add nearly 300 megawatts (MW) of new installed solar capacity, according to the recently released U.S. Solar Market Insight Report compiled by GTM Research and the Solar Energy Industries Association (SEIA).
The compromise legislation raises the state's net energy metering (NEM) trigger, or cap - although by not as much as wanted by solar advocates - but enough to keep the state's residential and commercial markets moving forward. Last year, New Jersey installed 240 MW of new solar, and that number is expected to grow by 20 percent this year. Residential and commercial installations were especially strong in Q1, with the state adding 18.4 MW of residential; 13.7 MW of commercial; and 6.3 MW of utility scale solar.
"We appreciate the thoughtful way that the legislature addressed this issue," said SEIA President and CEO Rhone Resch. "Even though we would have liked to see the caps lifted higher, we're encouraged by the broad, bipartisan support shown for solar by the legislature. New Jersey is on pace to install nearly 300 MW of new solar capacity this year alone. Clearly, smart public policies like the solar Investment Tax Credit (ITC), Renewable Portfolio Standards (RPS) and NEM are providing a tremendous boost to the state's economy, generating hundreds of millions of dollars a year in economic activity."
The GTM-SEIA report went on to point out that $103 million was invested in New Jersey in the first quarter of this year in new solar installations - and more than $694 million since the beginning of 2014.
"Because of the strong demand for solar energy, thousands of new, good-paying jobs have been added in New Jersey, benefitting the state's economy and environment," Resch said. "To put New Jersey's progress in some context, the 1,527 MW of solar installed in the state today is three times more than our entire country had in 2004. While homeowners are ‘going solar' in increasingly large numbers, what's also encouraging is the way many large businesses, including FedEx, Johnson & Johnson, Toys ‘R Us, McGraw Hill and U.S. Foods, are all embracing solar in a big way in communities all across New Jersey."
Today, there are 513 solar companies at work throughout the value chain in New Jersey, employing more than 7,200 people, representing manufacturers, contractors, project developers, distributors and installers. What's more, from an environmental perspective, solar installations in New Jersey are helping to offset more than 1.3 million metric tons of harmful carbon emissions, which is the equivalent of removing 279,000 cars off the state's roads and highways, or not consuming 149 million gallons of gasoline.
"By any measurement," Resch added, "solar is paying big dividends for New Jersey - and we believe the best is yet to come, with steady growth projected over the next two years."