Sources: Bill addressing solar incentives could be proposed today
A bill intended to increase the price of solar energy — and reduce the squeeze on the state's solar industry — could be proposed in the state Senate later today, according to sources familiar with the legislation.
Sen. Bob Smith (D-Piscataway), the Senate Environment and Energy Committee chairman, reportedly has been working on a bill that would provide relief to the industry.
The price for solar renewable energy credits, or SRECS, has fallen dramatically as new solar energy installations have entered the market. These credits are sold to energy producers to meet the state renewable portfolio standard.
The bill would include several provisions, including increasing the state standard for solar power and decreasing the solar alternative compliance payment, according to a source familiar with the bill. The combination of the two changes could again make SREC prices beneficial to the solar industry.
Senate Democratic spokesman Derek Roseman said the bill would bring stability.
"The goal is to end the boom-and-bust cycle that the solar industry has been in and replace it with a climate where growth and stability are possible," Roseman said.
The bill is "trying to stabilize the market and put SRECs in a window where they're not too high and not too low," a source said. The credits' prices have plummeted, dipping below $100 from their former level of more than $600.
The bill also would likely include a provision requested by Gov. Chris Christie's administration, giving the administration the ability to review and decide whether to approve all solar projects that would be eligible for SRECs in the future.
There are several steps for the bill, beginning with its proposal today. It must then be reviewed by legislative staff before it is introduced. This could occur as soon as May 14, according to sources.