June 25, 2012
Re: S-1925 & A-2966,
Solar Renewable Energy Credits (SREC)
Legislation is advancing intended to promote alternate energy and specifically assist the solar sector. S-1925 and A-2966 are poised for final legislative action this week.
While we know that reforms to the “SREC” market are designed to assist the industry and could help governments which have entered into energy agreements, the League maintains serious concerns with S-1925 & A-2966.
In particular, the recent floor amendment that changes the date of issuance applicable to a PJM issued System Impact Study from March 31, 2011 to June 30, 2011 is particularly objectionable, since it appears intended to assist a small number of projects without consideration to any other concerns surrounding the application.
The latest amendments are now available at: http://www.njleg.state.nj.us/2012/Bills/S2000/1925_R3.PDF
Any legislation intended to promote alternate energy and specifically the solar sector should not conflict with or undermine good planning at the local level to preserve farmland and open space. State and local governments have developed plans and expended significant public resources to preserve permanently open space and farmland throughout the State. Such “green” efforts should continue to be a top public policy priority, and it should be clear through legislative, regulatory and/or financial actions that the State does not promote or encourage or subsidize solar arrays on farmland.
Municipalities across the Garden State have received applications for use variances for so-called “solar farms” on prime agricultural lands. These “farms” directly conflict with the State’s planning priority to preserve farmland and open space.
Use variance applications for solar, wind and photovoltaic projects are considered “inherently beneficial” uses under a 2009 law. Thus, these applications are automatically considered to have met the “positive criteria” under the Municipal Land Use Law and must only pass the negative criteria. This is of huge concern to municipal officials, is inconsistent with the State Energy Master Plan, and is further inconsistent with the State’s long term policy objective of encouraging the preservation of farmland and open space.
This special status is also unnecessary, given the extensive availability of other appropriate locations beneficial for solar arrays, including rooftops, parking lots, landfills, for commercial operations and permitted use zones. It is the League’s position that these applications should not be considered an “inherently beneficial” use on agricultural lands and open space.
S-1925/A-2966 should instead provide clarity on the preservation and consistency with the State’s long-term energy goals and the efforts of local governments to zone appropriately for alternate energy and also for preservation. Regrettably, this legislation provided an opportunity for significant reform, but fails to offer the comprehensive solution which was sought.
We urge you to contact your legislators and the Governor’s office with these concerns.
Very truly yours,
William G. Dressel, Jr.