NEW JERSEY BOARD OF PUBLIC UTILITIES (NJ BPU)
Updated: Sep 14
BPU Closes Solar Renewable Energy Credit Program, Enacts Replacement Transition Program
On April 6, 2020, the New Jersey Board of Public Utilities closed the Solar Renewable Energy Credit (SREC) Program to new registrations after April 30, 2020. The Board also extended until 90 days thereafter the deadline for solar projects receiving permission to operate (PTO) by April 30 to submit post-certification packages to the Office of Clean Energy to complete SREC registration. Projects not receiving PTO by April 30 are eligible for participation in the Transition Renewal Energy Credit (TREC) Program established by the Board in its order dated March 27, 2020 in Docket No. QO18070698.
New Jersey’s Clean Energy Act of 2018 directed the Board to close the SREC Program when the Board determines that the percentage of solar electric kilowatt-hours sold in the state from generators “connected to the distribution system” reaches 5.1% of kilowatt-hours sold in the state, per calculation methodology the Board established by rule effective in early February. Board Staff determined and the Board found that the 5.1% milestone will be reached before May 1, 2020. This date is earlier than had been projected by at least a month, attributable to the recent decline in total kilowatt-hour sales in early 2020 compared to same period sales last year.
The Board established the TREC Program in its order effective December 16, 2019 in Docket No. QO19010068. The Board directed the state’s electric distribution companies to jointly assign or procure a TREC Administrator to purchase TRECs for collection and annual allocation to load serving entities (LSEs) as instructed by Board as part of the Renewal Portfolio Standard (RPS) compliance process. In its April 6 order, the Board directed its Staff and the EDCs to expedite the EDCs’ joint procurement of the TREC Administrator.
BPU Issues Emergency Order on Covid-19 Related Utility Precautions, Suspends Filing of Hard Copy in Proceedings
On March 19 the Board of Public Utilities issued an emergency order in response to the COVID-19 pandemic. The Board ordered all “public utilities and regulated entities” to immediately cease non-emergency in-home or business visits, and ordered broadband providers to prioritize new customer connections and repair services for homes with school age children, internet access for work, and utility-defined priority customers, after exhausting measures to minimize in-home visits.
The Board also ordered suspension of door-to-door sales activities by third-party suppliers or other selling energy or energy-related products, such as residential and community solar and energy efficiency offerings. The Board has waived paper filing and ordered electronic submissions to the Board or Rate Counsel, and has suspended statutory filing fees to be due at a later date. The Board has also waived the prohibition on electronic documents from being entered into the record of a formal proceeding (such as a utility rate case).
The Board issued its emergency order under authority of the Governor’s Executive Order No. 103 issued March 9 authorizing New Jersey state agencies to “promulgate rules to waive, suspend, or modify any existing rule, where the enforcement of which would be detrimental to the public welfare during this emergency” subject to the Governor’s prior approval.
New Jersey Issues New Energy Master Plan
On January 27, 2020, New Jersey Issued a new Energy Master Plan, which outlines key strategies for achieving the current administrations goals of achieving 100% clean energy by 2050. NJ BPU took the lead in developing the plan. It includes seven key strategies:
Reducing Energy Consumption and Emissions from the Transportation Sector,
Accelerating Deployment of Renewable Energy and Distributed Energy Resources
Maximizing Energy Efficiency and Conservation, and Reducing Peak Demand
Reducing Energy Consumption and Emissions from the Building Sector
Decarbonizing and Modernizing New Jersey’s Energy System
Supporting Community Energy Planning and Action in Underserved Communities, and
Expand the Clean Energy Innovation Economy
The full report is available at: http://d31hzlhk6di2h5.cloudfront.net/20200127/84/84/03/b2/2293766d081ff4a3cd8e60aa/NJBPU_EMP.pdf . Rothfelder Stern suggests that everyone involved in energy in New Jersey (renewables, traditional generation, transportation, or utilities) should be familiar with the report.
NJ BPU Approves Community Solar Projects
On December 20, 2019 the NJ BPU approved 45 applications to participate in the first year of its Community Solar Energy Pilot Program. The NJ BPU noted that all of the approved renewable energy projects intend to serve low- to moderate-income (“LMI”) communities for at least 51% of their capacity, thus substantially exceeding the statutory requirements for projects in aggregate to serve LMI subscribers. The NJ BPU Order, including the list of approved applicants, is available at: https://www.nj.gov/bpu/pdf/publicnotice/12-20-19-8D_For_Release.pdf. The projects must meet certain criteria and deadlines to proceed.