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New Jersey May End Solar Rebate Program to Grow Market Faster

Demand for New Jersey solar installations is high, but 700 customers are on waiting lists for New Jersey solar rebates, and some smaller installers are laying off workers while waiting for the rebates to be funded. So the state is considering moving to a system of energy credits that can be traded on the open market, according to a story today in the New York Times. That’s because, while New Jersey has grown its solar market, now it needs to grow it even faster.

  • Solar must provide 2.12 percent of NJ electricity by 2020 to meet the state’s commitment, but is only providing only .07 percent thus far.
  • The state has paid out $170 million in rebates and 3,100 solar systems have been installed.
  • There is pressure to keep electricity rates from rising further, as NJ’s are some of the highest in the country, yet if rebates continue at the needed level, rates will rise even further. (Rebates are funded by surcharges on electrical rates.)

It is believed that energy credits would reward larger companies, allowing them to ramp up solar installations at a faster rate. This faster growth would also take the pressure off the state to supply rebate funds.

Image: Rob Bennett for The New York Times. Installing solar modules on the roof of Kohl’s

Another way solar is growing is through power purchase agreements.

“Under those agreements… property owners do not have to buy or operate their solar projects, or handle the sale of energy credits. Instead, they avoid all up-front costs by contracting with SunEdison or other large companies, who bill property owners at fixed rates that are lower than utility company rates. Experts say these purchase agreements can promote the move to solar power. And regulators hope that a vibrant market for energy credits will speed that growth to the point where solar power can compete with conventionally generated electricity.”

Though renewable energy financing may be the dull side of the renewable energy debate, it is essential to market growth, and New Jersey’s experiment is being watched closely by everyone in the marketplace. To states like Indiana, where there are no state solar incentives at all, New Jersey’s problems seem enviable.

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Written By

Carol Gulyas is a leader in the renewable energy community in Illinois, where she serves as VP of the Board of the Illinois Solar Energy Association. Recently she co-founded EcoAchievers -- a provider of online education for the renewable energy and sustainable living community. She spent 18 years in the direct marketing industry in New York and Chicago, and is currently a teaching librarian at Columbia College Chicago. Carol grew up in a small town in central Indiana, then lived in the Pacific Northwest, Lima, Peru, and New York City. She is inspired by reducing energy consumption through the use of renewable energy, energy efficiency, and green building technology.


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