New Jersey Senator Bob Smith S2371 Bill May Prevent NJ SREC Oversupply

    On June 20th the New Jersey Senate Environment and Energy Committee made amendments to Senate Bill 2371. The Bill was passed in the State Senate on June 29th and now sits in the Assembly Telecommunications and Utilities Committee. Last move amendments to S2371were made on June 20th which would speed up the already aggressive solar renewable portfolio standard in New Jersey. The intention of the Bill is to prevent a multi-year collapse in Solar Renewable Energy Certificate (SREC) prices. The Bill proposes to skip the energy year (EY) 2013 SREC requirements and move right to EY 2014 requirements. Instead of requiring 596,000 SRECs to be purchased by energy providers in EY 2013, the requirement would jump to 772,000 SRECs. The rest of the schedule would remain the same, just moved ahead one year.

Current SREC
Proposed SREC
EY 2011 306,000 306,000
EY 2012 442,000 442,000
EY 2013 596,000 (REMOVE) 772,000 (REPLACE)
EY 2014 772,000 965,000
EY 2015 965,000 1,150,000
EY 2016 1,150,000 1,357,000
EY 2017 1,357,000 1,591,000
EY 2018 1,591,000 1,858,000
EY 2019 1,858,000 2,164,000
EY 2020 2,164,000 2,518,000
EY 2021 2,518,000 2,928,000
EY 2022 2,928,000 3,433,000
EY 2023 3,433,000 3,989,000
EY 2024 3,989,000 4,610,000
EY 2025 4,610,000 5,316,000
EY 2026 5,316,000  

     At the current pace of solar development, the New Jersey Solar Renewable Energy Credit SREC market is expected to produce an oversupply of SRECs for the upcoming year. The next energy year (June 2011 to May 2012) requires load serving entities (LSEâ??s) in New Jersey to purchase 442,000 SRECs for their compliance. We estimate that 490,000 to 590,000 SRECs will be created by NJ solar installations at the current rate of solar installations. The change proposed in the Bill will mop up the expected oversupply and keep the SREC prices stable. Without such a change the extra supply of SRECs may take 2 years to filter out of the market, and prices for SRECs will be so low that investors in solar in NJ will receive prices for SRECs much lower than expected. Solar development, one of the bright spots in the New Jersey Economy, may drop over 50% from the current pace of installs. SREC prices have already dropped in anticipation of the over-supply and are trading at $375for July 29th delivery. This is a significant drop from the current price of $599.63 which was July 6, 2011 settlement price on the Flett Exchange Internet trading platform. It would take a virtual halt in the rate of solar installs over a period of a year to bring the SREC market into a balanced supply-demand scenario. In the meantime SREC prices for spot and forward terms would remain under significant pressure.
     During the June 20th meeting of the Senate Telecommunications and Utilities Committee in Trenton Senator Bob Smith identified that the solar industry and regulators did not expect that the rate of solar installations would be so successful so quickly and potentially exceed the strong State mandates. This Bill is the type of preventive measure that is needed periodically in a program to reach long term goals of solar installations while maintaining confidence with solar investors. With a confident class of investors the ratepayer is more likely to benefit over the long term with clean solar energy at ever decreasing costs.
     As this bill works its way through the process, Governor Christie and the BPU will clearly have their say. It is a well known fact that the Administration would like to see the cost of solar brought down for the ratepayer. One should not expect support for a bill from the Governor that would just push SREC prices back up to the $600 level for years. We expect there to be a compromise required from the Governor in the form of lowering the established SACP from energy year 2013 to 2017 (this was hinted to in the revised energy master plan). The current defined SACP is in the High $500 to low $600 Range. A $100 drop would save ratepayers a potential $150,000,000 in energy year 2017 in the case of a short, undersupplied SREC market. Most solar investors that we speak to would accept this compromise in return for the accelerated growth and price support that would transpire with this Bill. Regardless of the recent tensions between Democrats and Republicans in Trenton, we believe that Governor Christie, BPU President Solomom, Senator Bob Smith and Assemblyman Chivakula will work this Bill to continue NJ on the path of more solar for New Jersey residents, businessâ??s and municipalities at lower costs to ratepayers.
     There was not support from the competitive electric suppliers for forcing long term contracts on them for SRECs. This long term contracting and shifting of development risk to other parties, be they ratepayers or electric suppliers, is advocated by certain sectors of the solar installers and development industry in New Jersey and was included in this Bill in its original form. Long term contracts were scrapped from the Bill. Long term, 15 year contracts would have transferred all of the risk of solar developers on electric suppliers which in turn would bring electric costs up for all ratepayers. Shifting risk from future solar developers to entities that do not benefit would create a split risk market that would disenfranchise those who already invested in solar.
     Michael Flett, President of Flett Exchange, spoke in favor of the bill in Trenton on June 20th in front of the Senate Environment and Energy Committee. He reiterated the need to increase the RPS to prevent a prolonged collapse in SRECs, spoke out against forcing long term contracts on competitive electric suppliers, and also brought up the benefits of a $100 SREC price floor as a future mechanism.
     New Jersey is in the right place at the right time with an established solar industry to take advantage of Federal incentives along with plummeting panel prices. The SREC market can take most of the credit as a mechanism. With proactive measures like this Bill with support by Christie, Solomon, Smith and Chivakula the benefits to investors and ratepayers can continue in a competitive fashion.

Read The Entire Bill Here

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