LETTER – BPU Solar Stakeholder Process- Finally!

The New Jersey Board of Public Utilities (BPU) has directed staff to open a stakeholder review on the state of the solar market in New Jersey. This review will solicit input from all stakeholders in the solar industry culminating in public hearings to be held in across the Garden State. The Board acknowledged the significant changes in the technology and installation practices, economics and the financial models of the solar industry over the years. Therefore, the Board found it prudent at this time to solicit input from stakeholders in all segments of the New Jersey solar market regarding how the Board should manage the market in the future. Even though it is important that they are moving forward, they should have made changes to the solar market earlier to prevent a crash in the market.  Jeff Tittel, Director of the New Jersey Sierra Club released the following statement:

“The BPU is finally taking action on an important issue to address the New Jersey solar market. For years, they have looked the other way and as a result we have fallen behind and lost ground. The problem is the solar market may collapse in a year if we don’t do anything. While current data is pointing to a possible crash in New Jersey’s solar market, the BPU didn’t do anything. The BPU needs to work on expanding the Renewable Portfolio Standard to prevent this from happening. We need to make New Jersey a leader in solar power once again. Before Christie came in office, there were 11,000 solar jobs in the state, but now there are only 6,000. We used to do forty megawatts a month and now we’re doing eight. As a result, New Jersey has dropped from and 2nd to 8th in solar in the nation.”

 “As the solar market as changed, we need the BPU to address the changes in technology and improvements in solar. Since this program went into effect about 10 years ago, solar has become 29 percent more efficient and gone down in price by 25 percent. Now that solar is more efficient, it doesn’t need the same subsidies as in the past, which hurts the ratepayers. Since we have been using up all of the credits, we could see a crash in the mark in about a year from now. We need to change the solar program to make sure it is more market driven without credits and subsidies. To change the paradigm, we need to make sure we change the program and follow other states like New York, Massachusetts, and California that encourage more solar.”

 “New Jersey can be a leader nationally in clean energy and clean energy jobs. We need to pass legislation that encourages homeowners and businesses to invest in solar power. This will help deal with climate change while growing our economy. We need this legislation to reduce our greenhouse gas emissions, grow our economy, and produce green jobs. With all the people that have been devastated by the recent storms and flooding, ignoring climate change is not only outrageous, but dangerous. We need to stop the fossil foolishness of the past and make real changes to the solar program.”

 “It is good that the BPU is moving forward with this stakeholder process, but it won’t be here until the next Governor. When this work is complete, hopefully it will happen with a Governor who is more pro-solar. We still need to use this program to move solar forward because otherwise we will see a crash in the market. We want to move solar forward and pass legislation to achieve 100 percent renewable energy by 2050. However, we achieve these important goals if we keep giving out generous subsidies.”