A couple of years ago New Jersey lawmakers passed the Solar Act of 2012, which was intended to encourage more solar development in the state. Instead the state’s Board of Public Utilities (BPU) has used the law to obstruct development of renewable energy projects, which were already underway with millions of dollars spent. Now lawmakers and the New Jersey Solar Grid Supply Association (NJSGSA) are calling on BPU to allow these projects to ahead, with the association filing a 16-count, $500 million legal suit against the commission.
The NJSGSA represents 20 solar developers and 40 solar projects throughout the state, which would bring more solar power to the state. “The BPU unjustifiably blocked solar grid supply projects, resulting in the loss of millions of dollars in economic investment by businesses that the state essentially recruited to pursue these types of renewable energy projects,” said Jim Spano, President of NJSGSA. “As an additional consequence, the state has also denied New Jersey taxpayers cleaner, more affordable, energy and thousands of jobs.”
Legislators from both sides of the political isle supported the legislation and are opposed to the BPU’s actions. “By wrongfully implementing the Solar Act and changing the rules for projects already in the development pipeline, the BPU has unfairly obstructed important renewable energy projects and denied the state millions of dollars in economic investment,” said Assemblyman Upendra Chivukula (D-17), chairman of the Assembly Telecommunications and Utilities Committee. “As a sponsor of the bill, I know the intent was always to recognize the significant investment made by the development community and approve the projects already in the development pipeline if all other requirements were met,” Chivukula said.
“Many of these grid-supply projects, already in advanced stages of development due to the BPU’s initial encouragement, are being unfairly denied due to retroactive limitations set by the BPU. It is unwarranted, and it is blocking revenue and jobs,” said Assemblyman Robert Clifton (R-12).
Since the BPU has not yet changed its actions, the NJSGSA decided it had no recourse except to file the suit. “While we certainly did not want to pursue litigation, it is clear that it was the only option,” Spano said. “We hope the courts will recognize the legislative intent of the Solar Act.”
The complaint contends that between 2008 and 2012 New Jersey encouraged and invested in solar and grid supply, which encouraged solar industry businesses to invest millions of dollars in grid supply development. But before they could move forward on their projects BPU’s interpretation of the Solar Act of 2012 seeks to move large solar projects—including those already in the project pipeline—from farmland and to brownfields. The suit alleges that the implementation of the act crippled New Jersey’s solar grid supply industry. “Once the second largest solar development state in the country, New Jersey has seen solar panel installation plummet in the past 12 months, which has resulted in the loss of investment and employment,” NJSGSA said.Tweet