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Schaer, DeAngelo, Quijano, & Benson Bill to Establish "Neighborhood Solar Energy Investment Program" Clears Panel

Measure Permits Customers of an Electric Public Utility to Invest in Solar Energy Projects

(TRENTON) – An Assembly panel released Thursday legislation sponsored by Assembly Democrats Gary Schaer, Wayne DeAngelo, Annette Quijano, and Daniel Benson to allow consumers to participate in solar energy programs and provide a credit to those who do participate in these programs.

“The Neighborhood Solar Energy Investment Program will provide an opportunity for more families to reduce their monthly utility bill and carbon impact through participating in offered solar energy programs,” said Schaer (D-Bergen, Passaic). “Making the change to solar energy is an investment in the future. With this legislation, many more residents will see firsthand the benefits of utilizing solar energy in their home.”

Under the bill, the Board of Public Utilities is to permit a customer of an electric public utility to invest in a solar energy project in a manner and at a price that is determined by the owner of a solar energy project, provided that the solar energy project is connected to the electric grid and located in the service territory of the electric public utility which services the investing customer.

“This is good pro-consumer legislation,” said DeAngelo (D-Mercer, Middlesex). “By helping more residents to “green” their homes we enable consumers to save money with lower energy costs as well as protect the environment.”

A customer who has invested in a solar energy project is to be permitted a credit on the customer’s electric utility bill for the amount of energy that the customer’s investment produces, provided that the credit is less than or equal to the customer’s annual electric usage in the previous energy year. A customer will be compensated for any credits each billing period or at the end of the annual billing period.

“Residents should be allowed to participate in programs that could save them money on their utility bills,” said Quijano (D-Union). “Residents who have made an investment and rely less on the power should see their cost savings in their wallets. This is great consumer legislation that gives families what they need most, a reprieve from the high cost of utilities.”

“Solar energy continues to be our best option to reduce dependence on fossil fuels,” said Benson (D-Mercer, Middlesex). “Giving credits to residents who participate in solar programs will speed up adoption of this important renewable energy resource.”

As determined by the board, the board is to require the owner of a solar energy project to provide a copy of its agreement with its investing customer to the customer’s electric public utility, and notify the customer’s electric public utility once the agreement between the owner of the solar energy project and the customer has been terminated.

The bill provides that the board must make available on its internet website information on solar energy project and the customer has been terminated.
The bill requires the board establish standards and an application process for owners of the solar energy projects who wish to be included in the Neighbor Solar Energy Investment Program.

The sponsors note in the bill that the standards for the Neighborhood Soalr Energy Investment Program are to include,, but not limited to, verification process to ensure that solar energy projects are producing an amount of energy that is greater than or equal to the amount of energy that is being credited to its investors’ electric utility bills.

The measure was released by the Assembly Telecommunications and Utilities Committee. It now awaits consideration by the Assembly Speaker.