On the roller coaster that is New Jersey's solar industry, no one is green about the market's potential for rises and falls.
It's for that reason the local solar industry, still among nation's leaders in scale, is once again calling on leaders to bring more predictability to a too-uncertain market as it nears another plunge.
Whether the federal government will steer clear of a solar incentive reduction is up for debate.
Tricia Caliguire (Special Counsel at McCarter & English), who worked as an energy policy adviser in the Chris Christie administration for almost five years, said one thing is guaranteed: don't expect an answer anytime soon. "It's not likely we'll see anything prior to the 2016 presidential election," she said. "Support for renewables has been controversial."
In light of that near-term uncertainty, Caliguire said she expects there to be a rush to build solar projects in the state.
This rush-to-build trend may have an effect on New Jersey's solar renewable energy credits (SRECs), which assist in the financing of new solar systems by requiring electric companies either to buy a certain amount of solar credits from panel owners or produce their own.
The prices of SRECs are determined by market forces and the state's portfolio of renewables. When there is a shortage of SREC supply, pricing will rise. Building more solar systems causes supply to increase.
New Jersey's SREC market is the largest in nation by volume. It also has proved susceptible to dramatic swings in pricing as supply outpaces demand.
The last time the state saw that was in 2011, when the then nation-leading Garden State solar industry took a notorious nosedive. SREC prices went from $600 to below $100, dramatically stretching out the return-on-investment period for panel owners.
During that time, the Legislature and Christie took action to steady the market by increasing the state's renewable portfolio standards, among other things. In her state post, Caliguire was responsible for helping develop the solar industry's policy salve.
Caliguire, who now serves as an attorney at Newark-based McCarter & English, is certain the sprint to complete projects before 2017 will put New Jersey in a similar position.
“But whether there's going to be support for another solar rescue — that's uncertain,” she said.
Click here to access the full article.