New Jersey solar panel developers want state regulators to give them more time to complete 199 projects that have been in the works for more than a year.
In a petition to the state Public Utilities Board, 28 developers said they want commissioners to reconsider the agency’s decision last month not to extend the completion date for the projects.
The decision affected 199 projects under a temporary stimulus program that helped subsidize mostly commercial rooftop and canopy solar systems. Without an extension, many developers will lose government incentives, which they believe will make their projects financially unviable.
It’s the latest issue derailing New Jersey’s efforts to grow the solar sector, which is a key component of the Murphy administration’s efforts to transition to a clean energy economy by 2050. Solar power is projected to provide at least one-third of new electricity needs by then. Jersey in electricity.
In the petition, solar developers argue that the COVID-19 pandemic has made meeting state deadlines unusually difficult. The public health crisis disrupted project completion in a number of ways — obtaining municipal and building permits; obtaining environmental permits and constraints in the global supply chain that prevented the supply of key components of solar cells.
“If not remedied immediately, the board’s November 9, 2022 order puts up to 199 solar projects at risk of being shut down or ‘landed’ and thus poses an existential threat to the viability of the solar industry in New Jersey,” it said. petition filed by developers.
Lyle Rawlings, president of the Mid-Atlantic Solar and Storage Industry Association, who was a member of the movement, said canceling the projects could cost investors and customers “tens of millions” of dollars already spent on the projects.
“It threatens the stability and viability of many businesses,” Rawlings said. “Such great losses are very difficult to accept.”
In denying the developer an extension, the BPU noted in its ruling that it has long supported the solar sector in New Jersey by maintaining a smooth transition from the transition incentive program to the permanent solar successor program.
“He is always committed to supporting the continued growth of the industry while minimizing costs to ratepayers to the greatest extent possible,” the order said.
But Rawlings argued that the latter outweighed concerns about the industry’s growth. “Obviously they felt that the incentives to switch were too high and they want to push the projects toward less expensive incentives,” he said.
Earlier this month, the BPU approved a new program to build 300 megawatts of utility-scale solar projects. The move is projected to help meet the state’s solar energy goals at a lower cost to ratepayers and is a way to bring hundreds of new jobs to New Jersey’s solar sector.
In fact, the high cost of the solar program led the Legislature to order the BPU to end the previous system that incentivized solar installations. For the past several years, ratepayers have subsidized the program, paying more than $500 million in electric bills each year. The new successor program has far fewer incentives for solar developers, leaving some segments of the sector reeling.
Rawlings, who is the founder of Advanced Solar Products in Flemington, said fewer incentives have caused some solar developers to focus on neighboring states to build solar installations.