A second generation, gargantuan solar boom is coming to New Jersey.
Governor Christie yesterday signed a major solar bill that accelerates by 4 years the required amounts of solar generation under New Jersey's previous solar renewable portfolio standard. That sounds modest but its impact is not modest at all.
The law insures another major surge in solar construction in New Jersey, starting in 2013.
Current New Jersey law requires a bit more than 0.5% of its electricity to be solar generated, and New Jersey has approximately 750 megawatts of solar installed, ranking it second behind California in solar capacity.
The new law requires a sharp increase in solar quickly. Indeed, by 2015, New Jersey will have 2.5% of its electricity coming from solar. To meet that requirement, 2,000 to 3,000 megawatts of new solar installations will be installed in New Jersey.
How big is 2,000 to 3,000 megawatts of solar? At the end of 2011, America had installed about 4,000 megawatts. Solar is booming across the land, and 3,000 megawatts will be installed in 2012 in all 50 states--smashing the previous national record for annual total solar installations.
This law is a very big deal! Beyond the sharp and quick acceleration of the solar requirement, the law also cuts substantially the amount of the solar alternative compliance payment or ACP.
The bill will have big impacts for the grid and electricity market prices. It will lower wholesale market prices for electricity and especially peak prices in the eastern PJM region that will offset payment by utility customers of the solar credits.
The bill requires enough generation to be built in New Jersey that it may reduce transmission congestion costs. It will lead to a rush of solar investment and create thousands of jobs. And it will improve reliability of the grid during the peak days of summer demand.
The bill passed with strong bi-partisan support, but it is another tell that Governor Christie will not be the running mate of Governor Romney. Why? This bill will be unpopular with national conservatives, despite its use of market mechanisms to meet the required standard.
To read the Philadelphia Inquirer Sandy Bauers' report about the law go to: www.philly.com/philly/blogs/greenliving/. Make sure to "page down."