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The NJ BPU Develops Proposed Rules for the State’s Long-Term Solar Successor Program

New Jersey Long-Term Solar Successor Program: Commercial Projects for Solar Energy Farm Landowner Landlord Lease

On July 9, 2021, Governor Murphy signed Assembly Bill A4554, which directs the New Jersey Board of Public Utilities (BPU) to establish within one year a long-term successor solar renewable energy certificate program to replace New Jersey’s existing Transition Incentive Program, also known as the TREC program.

Board of Public Utilities Develops Proposed Rules

Even in advance of this legislation, however, the BPU was making plans for the successor solar program. A public meeting to discuss two Orders that would, within 30 days of issuance, announce new parameters for the new program and close the existing program, is scheduled for 10:00 a.m., Thursday, July 28.

The BPU has also announced plans to publish proposed rules in the New Jersey Register, most likely on August 2 or August 16. A draft of these proposed rules is available on their website here. The rules would establish a Successor Solar Incentive Program, which the BPU is referring to as “SuSI.” Rulemaking is potentially significant because it is a multi-month process, providing 60 days for comments (until October, assuming publication occurs in August), a final adoption that is required to address all the comments, and republication. This process might last well into December of this year.

New Jersey Long-Term Solar Successor Program

As we noted in our previous blog post, “NJ BPU Extends the Deadline for Completing TREC Projects, but Remains Silent as to Timing of a Successor Program,” a BPU Order was entered on June 24, granting a blanket six-month extension to complete projects already in the pipeline of the TREC program. But it appears from the Proposed Rules, together with the expected BPU Order closing the TREC program as of (presumably) August 27, that developers may not be able to register new projects until the new “portal” is opened; and that cannot take place until after the rulemaking process is finished.

Therefore, the delay between the closure of the TREC program and the opening of a portal for new projects could well result in a build-up of proposed projects that will come flooding into the BPU all at one time. Because there will be an annual cap on eligible SuSI projects (the “megawatt block”), and the portal will close every year when the cap is reached, the SuSI program may be guaranteed to fall short every year if this is indeed the case.

We hope to hear more about these latest developments and the plans for new TREC projects at the BPU’s July 28 meeting, and we will continue to monitor these developments. Meanwhile, if you have any questions about the existing TREC program or related public utilities or solar energy matters, please feel free to contact us at jlaskey@norris-law.com or lmiller@norris-law.com.