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New Jersey Recently Surpassed 4 Gigawatts of Solar-Generated Electricity

The New Jersey Board of Public Utilities (NJBPU) recently announced that New Jersey recently surpassed 4 gigawatts of solar-generated electricity produced by more than 157,000 solar installations statewide. This is enough “clean energy” to provide electricity to over 500,000 New Jersey households annually.  The NJBPU estimates that solar capacity in New Jersey could double in the next four years.  Clean energy generated by solar and wind power are key components to reach New Jersey’s goal to reduce carbon emissions in the state by 50% by 2030 and by 100% by 2050.

The NJBPU continues to move forward with a variety of solar programs, which include:

      • Community Solar Energy Program: After a two-year pilot program, NJBPU estimates during the third quarter of 2022, the NJBPU will issue the permanent program straw proposal. In the first year of the pilot program, the NJBPU approved 45 applications, with the capacity to generate about 78 MW in solar energy.  In the second year of the pilot program, the NJBPU approved 105 projects, with the capacity to generate about 165 MW in solar energy. These projects combined have the cumulative capacity to serve approximately 24,000 low to moderate income subscribers;

     

      • Competitive Solar Incentive (CSI) Program: The NJBPU continues to advance the development of its Competitive Solar Incentive (CSI) Program for grid supply and large net-metered solar. NJBPU has issued a straw proposal and has held three public comment sessions. NJBPU anticipates launching this program later in 2022;

     

      • Dual-Use Solar Pilot Program:  The NJBPU will be working to develop and implement a Dual-Use solar pilot program. NJBPU anticipates issuing a straw proposal later in the year;

     

      • Grid Modernization:  The NJBPU continues to move forward with its Grid Modernization proceeding to solicit ideas for potential improvements to enable faster interconnection and higher levels of distributed energy resource (DER) integration. In June 2022, a draft report was presented at a public meeting with recommendations for interconnection reform.

     

  • For more information about New Jersey’s solar programs, please contact Alan P. Fox, Esq.
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Solar Update Regarding Extension Requests of Transition Incentive Program Deadlines

On June 8, 2022, the New Jersey Board of Public Utilities issued an Order conditionally granting a petition which requested an extension to the project’s solar Transition Incentive (“TI”) Program registration deadline. As part of this Order, the Board has defined a set of criteria to identify similarly situated projects which may be eligible for a comparable extension.

If you have a TI project that is approaching a registration deadline, please contact Alan P. Fox, Esq., Chair of the firm’s Alternative Energy Group, to explore whether your project is eligible for a comparable extension.

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Biden Administration Invokes Defense Production Act to Boost Domestic Manufacturing in Clean Energy Sectors

On June 6, 2022, the White House released a statement authorizing the use of the Defense Production Act (DPA) to build up domestic production of solar panels, electric transformers, heat pumps, insulation and hydrogen-related equipment.

The U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) could support those sectors through commitments to buy clean energy products from U.S. manufacturers; direct investments in facilities; and aid for clean energy installations in homes, military sites and businesses. Pending legislation (the Energy Security and Independence Act) would provide $100 billion in DPA funding for the clean energy sector.

The White House reports the expansion to domestic solar manufacturing capacity will grow the current capacity of 7.5 gigawatts by an additional 15 gigawatts, enabling 3.3 million homes to switch to clean solar energy. President Biden also urges Congress to pass tax cuts and additional investments that advance U.S. clean energy manufacturing and deployment.

Specifically, the White House is authorizing the DOE to rapidly expand U.S. manufacturing of the following five clean energy technologies:

    1. Solar panel parts including photovoltaic modules and module components;
    2. Building insulation;
    3. Heat pumps;
    4. Equipment for making and using clean energy-generated fuels, including electrolyzers, fuel cells, and related platinum group metals; and
    5. Power grid infrastructures such as transformers.
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Update on NJ Solar Incentive Program

In August 2021, the New Jersey Board of Public Utilities (“NJBPU”) launched the Administratively Determined Incentive (“ADI”) Program megawatt (“MW”). The program provides incentives to eligible solar facilities that are net metered residential, net metered non-residential 5 megawatts and eligible community solar on an interim basis. New registrations for each MW block are accepted on a first-come, first-served basis until either (1) the MW block is fully subscribed or (2) the capacity allocation expires at the end of the Energy Year, whichever occurs first.

The NJBPU recently set ADI Program block allocations for Energy Year 2023 (“EY2023”), which runs from June 1, 2022 through May 31, 2023. These MW block allocations are now in effect.

The EY2023 MW block allocations are as follows:

      • Net metered residential projects: 150 MW
      • Net metered non-residential projects (5MW and below): 150 MW +  any unused EY2022 capacity
      • Community solar: 150 MW
      • Interim subsection (t): 75 MW, or approximately 3 months from the Competitive Solar Incentive (“CSI”) Program’s first solicitation, whichever occurs first.

The ADI Program will therefore carry forward without interruption. The Board has made no change to the ADI Program incentive values at this time.

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Solar Energy Projects – Ensuring a Timely and Smooth Transaction and Obtaining Necessary Development Approvals

The goal of every developer for a photovoltaic solar energy project is to ensure a timely and smooth transaction and obtaining necessary development approvals.

Identifying wetlands and wetland buffers, local tree ordinances, access easements and storm water management issues are just a few of the hurdles that a land use attorney must address.

    • Does your purchase or lease agreement contain an adequate due diligence provision affording you full protection and the right to access?
    • Do you have a strategy if your due diligence investigation discloses environmental issues?
    • Have you identified the land use issues related to easements, wetlands, storm water management, buffering, security, interconnection and other issues necessary for site plan approval?
    • What are best practices for due diligence investigation for underground tanks, wetlands, soil suitability and tree removal?
    • What are practical solutions and considerations when faced with lack of access?

Armed with the knowledge and experience to cure land use issues related to developing a solar energy system, assistance is needed in spotting these issues and providing practical and effective solutions to the permitting process to ensure your transaction proceeds on time and with few surprises.

Alan P. Fox, Esq., Chair of the firm’s Alternative Energy Group, has over 30 years of experience in land use practice in New Jersey.  He is ready to review these and other challenging matters in connection with a purchase agreement, lease agreement or option agreement, as well as land use approvals and permits related for your ground mounted, canopy and combined roof top photovoltaic solar energy project.

Please contact Alan if you are considering developing a photovoltaic solar energy project in New Jersey to ensure a timely transaction and obtaining the necessary development approvals.