Some NJ solar projects put on hold: What’s the problem?
New Jersey is moving forward with a plan to have 100% clean energy by 2050, but a significant number of solar projects have been stalled by the pandemic and recent supply chain disruption issues.
One Garden State lawmaker is pushing a plan to fix the problem.
State Sen. Bob Smith, D-Middlesex, said because of COVID and supply chain delays, a lot of worthy solar projects have not been able to meet New Jersey Board of Public Utilities deadlines that would enable them to qualify for financial assistance.
In response, Smith announced he’s sponsoring a measure, S2732, that basically says “the BPU needs to consider the reasons for the delay and to review whether or not the projects made substantial efforts but were hindered by the pandemic and supply chain (delays) and then reevaluate the situation.”
We need more solar, he says
He said it’s vitally important to help move solar projects forward.
“Energy policy is critical to the state because we are facing global climate change, and the more renewables and non-carbon source of energy that we have, the better the chance that we actually survive,” Smith said.
He said he’s been told by the BPU that 3 out of 4 solar projects that applied for financial assistance “did not make any serious effort to go forward. In other words, they’re trying to reserve a place in line for this support even though they didn’t necessarily have a real project.”
No comment from regulators
A spokesman for the BPU declined to discuss the situation, saying the Board does not comment on pending legislation.
Smith said his bill has been approved by the Senate but efforts to build support for the legislation in the Assembly have been put on hold, pending a review by the BPU of all solar projects seeking grant money.
He noted the proposed measure also calls for additional priority to be given to solar projects on landfills and brownfields.
“That’s because one of the goals of our Energy Masterplan and our energy policy is to reclaim these sites into useful use,” he said.
Smith said while it’s vital to move ahead and expand the number of solar projects in New Jersey, we also must address connectivity issues in the state.
He said it can take more than a year for a solar project to get approval to join the local electric grid from the utility that is operating in that particular area.
He also noted the multi-state PJM electric transmission grid organization New Jersey is a part of also needs to be upgraded and modernized, as solar and wind power play an increasing role in providing energy for the Garden State.