CRITICAL NJCEP 2011 PROPOSED BUDGET
Proposal Solar Energy Takes a Nasty Hit. Attend the Public Stakeholder Hearing Nov. 10th 2:00 PM or submit written comments to : Public Hearing on 2011 New Jersey Clean Energy Program Budget & Programs and the Transitioning of NJCEP in 2011
Hearing: November 10, 2010
State House Annex Committee Rm 11
125 West State St Trenton, NJ 08608
2pm to 5pm
Written comments may be submitted to: OCE@bpu.state.nj.us
- Comments on 2011 NJCEP Budget & Programs due by November 17, 2010
- Comments on NJCEP Transition due by December 3, 2010
Go to www.njcleanenergy.com/filings under Program Updates for 2011 Clean Energy Program Filings & NJCEP Transition Position Paper
MSSA FILES LEGAL PETITION WITH THE NJ BOARD OF PUBLIC UTILITIES ON THE IMPACT OF LARGE SCALE PV PROJECTS ON PJM CAPACITY AND THE RPS
MSSA filed a petition on behalf of its members to the NJ Board of Public Utilities on October 12th, 2010 asking for the NJBPU to take action on the concern over the impact on EDC capacity on the PJM for solar projects and the impact on the RPS and SRECs. The petition requires BPU to investigate and begin hearings.
MSSA NEW JERSEY SOLAR POLICY CONFERENCE CALL RESULTS & UPDATE
Topics and Results
Time Sensitive Policy Issues
Monday August 30, 2010
On Monday, August 30th, MSSA held an all-organization New Jersey policy conference call to address and seek response to the vast changes that NJ’s solar program, incentives, and SREC system are undergoing due to major policy shifts at the NJ Clean Energy Program and the NJ BPU – apparently in response to the new Christie administration. 35 members participated in the call, MSSA continues to look for your response.
POLICY CHANGES THE MSSA BOARD OF DIRECTORS SEEKS YOUR RESPONSE ON:
2011 Renewable Energy Budget for the NJ Clean Energy Program Drastically Cut – Announced August 25, 2010 for Discussion at the the next RE Committee Meeting of the NJ Clean Energy Program:
2011 Renewable Energy Budget Straw Proposal Budget Cut to $22 MM for entire year- Dramatic Solar Budget Cuts – “Straw Proposal for 2011 Program Budget $10MM non-solar; $10 MM non-solar grid connected ; $12 MM All RE projects; $3.2 MM REIP Residential; $750,000 RE Mfg. Incentive (REMI); $5MM wind and biopower rebates $3.0 MM; $3 MM Administration! – Comments due 9/1/10 – MSSA is requesting that the deadline for comments be moved to 9/8/10. Please email your response and recommendations for MSSA’s official position to Dennis Wilson at email@example.com
Agenda Items for the 8/30 Policy Call and Results:
1. Solar Farms in South Jersey – Impact on the SREC Market, RPS, future of your business – Immediate Concern
Background: Over 1 GW in applications have been made to PJM for the Atlantic City Electric (ACE) Territory, primarily in two counties – a majority of which are applications from developers whom plan to lease farmland from farmers and install utility-scale ground-mounted systems – One developer has reserved 75 MW of capacity. All capacity for ACE has now been reserved and applications for small commercial, midsized, or even residential systems are being denied. At a meeting on interconnection at the ACE meeting on the 19th, several participants discussed the possibility of petitioning the BPU to allow the large PV developments to bypass net-metering and interconnect on the high-voltage side – and collect SRECs. A few very large systems collecting SRECs could usurp the entire SREC market, exceed the RPS, undermine distributed generation, impact arable farmland, and severely undermine all other PV business.
Action: MSSA wants your opinion on this. The MSSA Board believes MSSA needs to immediately file a legal petition to request the BPU to address this matter with a formal proceeding, not rule changes to favor the few.- Decision – file a petition to ask the NJBPU Board of Commissioners to launch a proceeding into the impact of solar farms and grid-connected vs. net-metered systems on the solar industry.
2. SREC REFORM – Lower SREC prices are coming – What should that look like?
At MSSA’s quarterly meeting last month, three proposals were presented as options to securitization. The BPU leadership and staff have repeatedly called for reduced SREC prices, and MSSA agrees that the prices need to come down in order to save the market and PV growth. But what should the new plan for financing and securitization look like? MSSA has an opportunity to influence this discussion by promoting a plan that will be effective, productive, reduce costs to ratepayers, lower SREC prices, and allow solar to thrive! Those three options are listed on the MSSA website – under Announcements – look for the three PDF files. We request your input. The Energy Master Plan is being revised, hearings held, and MSSA must be prepared critical recommendations. Decision: Agreement on Long Term Contracts, but spilt reaction on auction v. clearing price. Bill Hoey MSSA Policy Chairman wishes to offer a fourth option for market restructuring and requested MSSA organize an organizational brainstorming summit with members.
3. JCP&L Solicitation: BPU Waiting for MSSA to file Documentation requesting changes to the solicitation to encourage and enable PV integrators to utilize the funding from the solicitation. – Due September 4th
MSSA VP-NJ Dennis Wilson has begun to prepare recommendations to the JCP&L solar financing solicitation to the NJBPU Office of Clean Energy. MSSA has requested changes to improve the solicitation due to a number of complaints from members. Dennis Wilson is preparing written MSSA recommendations based on previous recommendations from members. To add any suggestions, please email Dennis at firstname.lastname@example.org
4. UPDATE ON MSSA’s Lawsuit To Reclaim the $158 MM Clean Energy Program Funds from the Christie Administration – Waiting for hearing date expected in September.
August 18, 2010
IMPORTANT SOLAR NEWS UPDATE & CRITICAL MESSAGE FOR ALL MSSA MEMBERS DOING BUSINESS IN NEW JERSEY
NJBPU Commissioner’s Caucus Sends Alarming Message to the Solar Industry: Not only may rebate program end, but the State goals for solar energy are under review and may be weakened!
On Wednesday, August 11th, the NJ Board of Public Utilities held a special Commissioner’s Caucus that was open to the public for the purpose of having an “open discussion” on the future and the transition of the NJ Clean Energy Program (NJCEP) – both energy efficiency and renewable energy. MSSA sent two representatives, and a number of MSSA solar integrator members were in attendance along with press, numerous state agencies, lobbyists, and other non-profit organizations. A transition away from rebates and toward SRECs as the only incentive for solar development had been discussed in the past by BPU staff. Few details were offered regarding how this transition would be handled, or whether and how to preserve the residential and small commercial segments of the market. Other remarks made by the Commissioners were alarming for NJ’s solar industry and worrisome for everyone in the energy efficiency and renewable energy business as well.
The discussion echoed comments made previously by the NJCEP staff, the BPU President, and other policy makers in public settings and in meetings with MSSA board members. They indicate that the State’s commitment to the growth of the solar energy economic sector is being questioned.
Warning! Change ahead – but what type?
The tone and character of the meeting took on flavor of lack of support or enthusiasm for the solar energy industry in NJ, for the benefits of solar energy, and for the clean energy jobs its produces. Paramount on the list of “problems” reported by the new BPU President was the comment that NJ’s electric costs were too high: “Businesses and people are leaving NJ because of high electric costs and we have to reduce it however we can – the SBC is part of that”.
Whether the comments made on Tuesday reveal influence or policy direction from the new administration, we do not know but can only surmise and attempt to find out information. MSSA’s recent information gathering from policy makers, combined with the administration’s seizing of the $158MM from the NJ Clean Energy Program from the 2010 budget (creating drastic budget reductions for the rebate programs), a mandate from the new Governor for a complete revision of the NJ Energy Master Plan, and a new analysis of the costs of renewable energy and energy efficiency to ratepayers leave us with no choice but to conclude that new clean energy policies are being seriously considered that could cut back or eliminate solar incentives of all types, or strongly favor other renewable energy sources.
Small solar businesses are under threat more than ever, but now all sizes of solar business are imperiled!
For the small and mid-sized solar and energy efficiency businesses, it appears that we are seeing a trend that could result in very painful results, including the elimination of all rebate programs for RE or EE, and possibly shifting of the current SBC funds to a revolving loan fund or competitive grants. The potential for companion legislation to reverse the strong solar energy growth embodied current law (EDECA); potential elimination of any SBC contribution to renewable energy; changes to the SREC price via the ACP or other avenues; or a decline in support for the growth of solar energy by advocating for other renewable technologies have all been discussed.
The potential for erosion of support for the growth of solar as a whole could have drastic effects on small and large project developers alike.
MSSA pro-active with new solar policy options
As reported and presented at the MSSA quarterly member meeting last month, MSSA board members have been pro-active in researching and educating policymakers on options for securitizing the SREC market, and bringing down the costs of the solar program while maintaining the growth of solar. Those presentations are available on the members’ page on the MSSA website. These policy options could spell enormous growth and success for the solar energy industry in New Jersey and significant growth in clean energy jobs.
The MSSA lawsuit over the seizure of the $158MM in Clean Energy funding
As reported in March, in the interest of all MSSA’s members and solar incentive programs throughout the nation, MSSA filed a lawsuit contesting the seizure of utility-collected Societal Benefit Charge funds by the Christie Administration. The lawsuit continues with the filing of briefs, and oral argument is scheduled for September. This seizure of funds was the first action in what could be a cooling off of strong support for the solar industry. MSSA continues to fight through the courts and our attorney. If MSSA were to win this lawsuit, MSSA would be in a stronger position to advocate for better, new solar policies that the current administration may support. MSSA cannot continue this fight with out your financial support. Members who have not renewed, we ask you to renew your membership today at www.mseia.net. Members who are integrators and have benefited from the NJ REIP and other rebate programs, we ask for your consideration of a financial contribution to the MSSA legal defense fund when we appeal to you in the next few days.
Time for Action and a New Advocacy Campaign for Better Solar Policies
MSSA and all MSSAV members can either sit back and allow these changes to occur to NJ’s clean energy policies, or campaign and advocate for policies that will grow solar energy five-fold. We believe that we know your answer! However, advocating for new, better policies, and heading off others that could reverse the growth of the solar market and affect hundreds of small businesses can only happen if every member of MSSA gets involved. Getting involved means making a call and meeting with your state legislators (we can show you how to do this), writing letters, reaching out to your customers and providing financial assistance to MSSA for this campaign. We will reach out to you soon with updated information, how you can get involved, and contacting your state legislator and the NJBPU leadership.
Please write or call with any ideas, reactions, or questions.
Lyle Rawlings, President email@example.com
Dennis Wilson, VP-NJ Dennis@renewablepowerinc.com
Dolores Phillips, Exec. Director MSSA firstname.lastname@example.org
The Times of Trenton Op-Ed
Personal views on local news & more
RAIDING CLEAN ENERGY FUND POWERS DOWN VITAL SECTOR
Tuesday, June 29, 2010
SPECIAL TO THE TIMES
When Gov. Christie signs the FY 2011 budget bill this week, he will likely also be signing another piece of legislation as part of a legislative budget deal. This legislation, S2421/A3071, called the De-appropriation Bill, takes $454 million in funds from several agencies that were appropriated in 2009 and budgeted for this past spring.
The funds, taken earlier this year by the Christie administration by executive order and held in reserve, resulted in the upheaval of several state programs that affect state citizens and businesses. While many of the budget reductions were very painful for a number of recipients of state programs, the taking of monies dedicated to New Jersey’s clean energy sector is already causing job losses in energy-efficiency and renewable-energy businesses.
Many small, clean-energy businesses will have to shut their doors within a month because Gov. Christie is raiding the New Jersey Clean Energy Trust Fund of $158 million, which is intended to be used to create incentives for New Jersey consumers, houses of worship and commercial businesses to purchase and install solar energy systems and energy-efficient retrofits. Already, there is far less money for clean energy incentives, a major disruption in a nascent but promising industry, and little funding for the rest of year. The result will set back business plans and pending contracts that rely on these programs.
In place since 1999, the New Jersey Clean Energy Trust Fund has created a new renewable energy economic sector: clean energy jobs. It has created more than 260 new small and mid-size businesses and earned New Jersey the reputation of being a national leader in clean energy — but no longer. This large chunk of clean energy funds will be commingled into general state operations to fill the budget “gap.” It will cost the state clean energy jobs. Yet the 1999 law authorizing the trust fund and the New Jersey Clean Energy Program made it very clear that the money was to be used only to support the growth of renewable energy and energy efficiency.
Despite the 1999 law, and despite a critical 2005 agreement among the Board of Public Utilities, the New Jersey Clean Energy Program and the state Treasury ensuring that the funds would be used only for renewable energy and energy efficiency, this $158 million now will not be used for clean energy development or clean energy jobs in New Jersey. And this occurs as the nation’s worst oil spill highlights the country’s dependence on fossil fuel and as New Jersey’s economy and job growth continue to suffer.
The New Jersey Clean Energy Program and its trust fund are completely funded by the state’s electricity and natural-gas ratepayers and do not use one cent of state money. No bond, appropriation, property tax or sales tax money is used. The 1999 law allowed part of the consumer benefit fee (the Societal Benefit Charge on every electric bill) to be used for the development of clean energy. That fee is collected and transferred to the New Jersey Clean Energy Trust Fund by the electricity utility companies.
The taking of utility ratepayer funds intended for clean energy not only undermines clean energy, but is also unconstitutional. New Jersey’s solar trade association, the Mid-Atlantic Solar Energy Industries Association (MSSA), has sued the Christie administration, claiming that the taking of the $158 million in clean energy funds is unconstitutional and that the governor or Legislature cannot appropriate funds into the state budget that are not state money.
We hope the court will convince Gov. Christie to leave the New Jersey Clean Energy Trust funds alone and allow the clean energy industry to continue to grow in the state. We urge the governor to strike from the De-appropriation bill the $158 million from clean energy and restore it to the New Jersey Clean Energy Program to support the continued growth of clean energy jobs in New Jersey.
Dolores A. Phillips is executive director of the Mid-Atlantic Solar Energy Industries Association (MSSA).
6/14/10 – Comments have been formally filed by the NJ – MSSA to the NJ BPU Clean Energy Program(NJCEP) on the latest proposal to further reduce rebates for the solar residential and solar commercial rebate program (1 – 50 kW), called the REIP (renewable energy incentive program). Members were polled, comments solicited and an emergency conference call held in order to honestly and accurately determine what the impact of the proposal would be on small and mid-size solar contractors. The document clearly pointed out that the increased rapid demand for residential and small commercial solar systems was a result of Governor Christie’s Administration taking $158MM from the NJ Clean Energy Trust for general state operations. MSSA has filed a lawsuit against the Christie administration.
6/10/10 Three Pieces of new Solar Legislation Being Monitored by NJ-MSSA – Three pieces of NJ legislation are moving through the NJ Legislature and are being closely monitored, commented on, amendments offered, and testimony provided by the NJ division of MSSA. The legislation includes: S. 2006 (Smith/Bateman) which prohibits municipal zoning ordinances from barring solar panels under certain circumstances – Heard on 6/14/10 and reported from committee 4 -0 with new language; S.1406 (Smith/Bateman) the NJ Property Assessment Clean Energy Municipal Financing Program (PACE) – released from the Senate Environment Committee with new language and referred to the Senate Budget & Appropriations Committee; S.463 (Smith/Buono), which allows renewable energy collaboratives to be established (amended in committee and on the Senate floor 6/10/10 –on the Senate floor for a full vote. Information on legislation can be obtained through www.njleg.nj.state.nj.us.
6/1/10 – MSSA’s counsel files Appelant Reply Brief in Lawsuit against the Christie Administration for removing $158MM from the NJ Clean Energy Trust- Oral argument next.
5/3/10 – MSSA’s counsel, Potter & Dixon, files notice of lawsuit with the Superior Court of NJ – Appellate Division – A Civil Action – MSSA vs. Chris Christie, Governor of New Jersey Executive Order 14 Removing $158MM from the NJ Clean Energy Trust for the purpose of comingling the funds for general state operations. Docket # A-003374-09T4