New Jersey BPU blamed for misinterpretation of solar law

Saying the misinterpretation of the Solar Act of 2012 has resulted in the obstruction of millions of dollars in economic investment in clean energy projects, several New Jersey legislators recently called on the New Jersey Board of Public Utilities to take immediate action in reinstating the development of solar grid supply projects in New Jersey.

“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 in a press release. “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,” Assemblyman Chivukula said.

Assemblyman Robert Clifton (R-12), added, “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.”

In an effort to move forward with grid-supply projects under development, the New Jersey Solar Grid Supply Association filed a 16-count, $500 million, lawsuit against the State of New Jersey and the Board of Public Utilities in October, according to a press release.

The suit was filed in response to the loss of millions of dollars invested in solar energy projects that the BPU has prevented from being built, according to the release.

“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.”

BPU spokesman Greg Reinert declined comment.

The complaint outlines the state’s initial encouragement of solar grid supply investment and later alleges wrongful interpretation of the Solar Act of 2012, as well as numerous regulatory missteps, that have 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, according to the release.

In the suit, the NJSGSA states that between 2008 and 2012, New Jersey implemented numerous policies and initiatives to encourage the development of solar grid supply projects. In response, businesses invested millions of dollars in grid supply development. However, before these businesses could continue to move forward with their development projects, the BPU began to incorrectly implement the Solar Act of 2012, which they interpret to mean large solar projects should be moved from farmland and onto brownfields — vacant lots that have previously been used for industrial purposes, but have had proven or suspected discharge of contaminant on the property.

Source: Register-News

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