Measures Chart Path for Smart Growth, Solar Panel Installation &
Updated Renewable Energy Portfolio Standards
(TRENTON) – Legislation sponsored by Assembly Democrats Tim Eustace, Daniel Benson, Wayne DeAngelo and John McKeon to promote energy efficiency and environmental sustainability throughout New Jersey was approved on Thursday by the Assembly Telecommunications and Utilities Committee.
“Every day, people statewide depend on having safe, reliable energy for everything from lighting rooms to engaging in personal and professional communication to heating and cooling their homes,” said Eustace (D-Bergen/Passaic). “By facilitating the efficient delivery of power to New Jersey residents, this bill will help advance our energy policy and encourage solar panel installation among building owners.”
The bill (A-2446) would establish a “Solar Roof Installation Warranty Program” within the New Jersey Economic Development Authority (NJEDA). The program would provide a source of indemnification to commercial, industrial and institutional building owners who wish to install solar panel systems on their building roofs but cannot obtain sufficient warranty coverage against any resulting roof damage.
“The liabilities associated with solar panel installation prohibit many building owners from taking advantage of the benefits of solar energy,” said Benson (D- Mercer, Middlesex). “With this legislation, we remove barriers for economic growth and environmental gains by making it possible for more building owners to use a renewable energy source for their energy needs.”
“Many building owners are interested in taking advantage of a clean, renewable energy source but are unable to due to the costly warranty coverage,” DeAngelo (Mercer, Middlesex). “This legislation provides enormous potential for continued growth of New Jersey’s renewable energy portfolio.”
“Solar energy is an abundant, environmentally-friendly way to meet the demand for power in New Jersey, and our state has been a proud leader on that front,” said McKeon. “By alleviating some of the concerns building owners may have about the liabilities associated with solar panels, this bill will encourage more entities to take advantage of this clean energy source.”
Under the bill, societal benefits charge funds would provide an initial $2 million for the “Solar Roof Installation Warranty Fund.” The bill directs the BPU to make additional deposits of $500,000 per fiscal year thereafter until deposits to the fund reach a cumulative total of $5 million.
The fund, to be maintained in a trust account separate and apart from other funds, would provide sufficient money to pay claims by participating commercial, industrial and institutional building owners for damages to a roof due to solar panels that a warranty or insurance policy does not cover and pay the overall costs of administering the program. The maximum amount to be paid from the fund for a loss to a participant for a single building would be $50,000. The bill requires the NJEDA to investigate and determine the validity of each claim.
The bill will now be considered further by the Assembly Speaker.