New State Regulations Assist New Jersey Solar Projects

New State Regulations Assist New Jersey Solar Projects

As a part of the State of New Jersey’s efforts to encourage the development of solar energy facilities, the Board of Public Utilities has proposed the first in a series of solar-related regulations anticipated in the next year.

One of the interesting aspects of these regulations is the increased flexibility that they will provide for “net metering” my users of solar energy.

With net metering, customers can use the energy generated from any on-site renewable energy system to offset the cost of energy that has already been consumed elsewhere.  This is essentially accomplished by allowing meters to run backwards at a given facility, when the renewable system there generates more electricity than the customer requires.  Currently, these billing arrangements are available only where the renewable facility is located on the same property as the end use customer. 

The proposed rules would, however, permit a renewable facility located on a property contiguous to that of the end use customer, or separated by no more than one existing easement, public thoroughfare, or utility or transportation right of way, to be considered as “behind the meter,” meaning that the electricity from the renewable facility could then be used to offset the demand of the end user on the other property.

These new rules will promote the use of solar energy systems on properties where they previously were prohibited, sometimes by rather arbitrary distinctions related to property lines, utility rights of way and similar restrictions.

These regulations were in development at the Board of Public Utilities prior to the adoption of the solar energy legislation known as Senate Bill No. S1925, adopted earlier this summer.  Pursuant to that legislation, the Board of Public Utilities must adopt regulations that will further broaden the use of net metering, at least for public entities, so that renewable energy generated on any property owned by a public entity can be used to offset the public entity’s overall electric bill.  Those regulations have not yet been proposed by the Board of Public Utilities.

The current proposal appeared in the New Jersey Register on August 6, 2012 and comments may be submitted through October 5, 2012.

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AboutWilliam Sullivan

William Sullivan concentrates his practice in the areas of environmental law, land use law, redevelopment law and renewable energy law.Full Biography

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