New Jersey Senate passes 80% renewable energy mandate

21. March 2016 | Financial & Legal Affairs, Markets & Trends | By:  Christian Roselund

Difficulties may lie ahead with this ambitious proposal due to potential opposition by Governor Chris Christie

New Jersey Governor Chris Christie is expected to veto the bill

Last week, the New Jersey Senate passed a bill to require that utilities in the state source 80% of their electricity from renewable energy by 2050. Under the bill, utilities would need to get 11% of their electricity from renewables next year, and this would increase roughly 10% every five years until the 80% by 2050 target is met.

This would give New Jersey the 5th-most ambitious renewable portfolio standard (RPS) in the United States, behind Hawaii, Vermont, California and New York, but slightly ahead of Oregon. Oregon Governor Kate Brown signed into law the state’s 50% by 2040 RPS earlier this month.

New Jersey currently has a 20% by 2020-2021 RPS, with a special requirement that utilities source 4.1% of their electricity from solar PV by 2027-2028. According to GTM Research New Jersey was the United States’ 10th-largest solar market in 2015 with 181 MW installed, but the state has fallen in ranking and volume following a boom in 2012.

S1707 now heads to the state’s General Assembly for approval, where similar legislation passed by the Senate last December failed came to a vote by the end of the last legislative session.

From there, it could get more difficult. If New Jersey Governor Chris Christie (R) vetoes the bill, it would require a 2/3 vote in both the General Assembly and Senate to overturn this veto .

New Jersey Spotlight reports that the 23-15 Senate vote fell largely along party lines, with Democrats voting for the mandate and Republicans against it. And while Democrats hold majorities in both houses, they do not hold 2/3 of the seats in either house.

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