Incentives Watch: Is New Jersey’s Solar Initiative a Victim of its Own Success?

New Jersey is a leader in the use of solar energy, second only to California in terms of installations and installed capacity, according to New Jersey’s Clean Energy Program.

But now, New Jersey’s solar industry is in peril because the supply of solar-generated electricity has grown so fast that the market for the energy crashed last year.

Owners of solar photovoltaic systems in New Jersey can register their systems through the New Jersey Board of Public Utilities to receive Solar Renewable Energy Certificates (SRECs). Each time a system generates 1,000 kilowatt hours of electricity, a SREC is earned and placed in the customer’s account. SRECs can then be sold on the SREC tracking system.

But in the past year, the price of solar energy has plummeted to the point that SREC prices have dropped dramatically, from $650 in 2010 to $100 in 2012, according to a article.

Currently, utilities are required to obtain a certain portion of their electricity from solar power. In order to rescue the industry, legislators are considering a bill that requires utilities to buy even more solar power and that limits the size of new solar projects, according to the article.

Proponents of the bill hope it will save the struggling industry, as well as the jobs it creates. Opponents believe the new mandate will be passed on to the ratepayers, in terms of higher electricity prices, and they want the subsidies to end, according to the article.

In addition to SRECs, New Jersey offers a property tax exemption and a sales tax exemption for solar devices and systems, according to Bloomberg BNA’s Green Incentives Navigator. In fact, forty six states offer some type of solar energy incentive, according to according to Bloomberg BNA’s Green Incentives Navigator.

In other developments . . .

Georgia enacted a preferential assessment for brownfield properties where there has been a delay in the construction of the improvements, according to a recent Bloomberg BNA Weekly State Tax Report article.

By: Kathleen Caggiano 

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