The Solar Alliance, a solar developer advocacy organization, has asked the New Jersey Board of Public Utilities to increase the amount of solar utilities must buy through the current solar renewable energy credit (SREC) system. Such a move will help ensure stability for the state’s solar market, it said.
The petition would extend the state’s current SREC system, according to the Solar Alliance’s Mid-Atlantic Director Katie Bolcar.
“The current program is set to expire at the end of 2012 and the [Board of Public Utilities] is holding stakeholder meetings to review the program and decide on any future program,” she said. “The extension can be viewed as a 'bridge' between the expiration of the current program and when another program can start, after appropriate stakeholder engagement.”
Such a development is important for stabilizing the state’s solar market, Bolcar said.
“The Solar Alliance sees long-term contracting as a critical element to reducing market volatility and minimizing the cost to ratepayers,” she said. “And the [electric distribution companies] SREC Finance Program has proven an effective mechanism for long-term contracting.”
The long-term pricing also reduces the cost of SRECs for EDCs in New Jersey. Under the program, they were able to lock in prices between $265 and $422 for SRECs, which is far below the $600 or more that the certificates were selling for on the market, according to the NJ Spotlight.
The petition would also make sure the state hits key targets set by law.
“The Solar Alliance's petition with the NJ BPU is to bring the capacity allotted under the current EDC SREC Finance Program in line with the SREC schedule as defined in the Solar Energy Advancement and Fair Competition Act, signed in to law in 2010,” Bolcar said.
To meet that goal, the Solar Alliance said the state should require utilities to buy SRECs for 47.3 more megawatts of solar.
“The additional megawatts would not be targeted specifically to one market segment or another but be dispersed under the current program's rules,” Bolcar said. “That said, with only 2 percent of megawatts going to the under 50 kilowatt segment, the rules of any future program would need to be reviewed and amended to realistically allow for the participation of the residential and small project segment.”
Otherwise the SRECs could fail to spur homeowners and others to install solar and experience the benefits of the program.
Image courtesy of NREL.