Improving Processes and Transparency Fortifies New Jersey's Solar Market

Challenge:

In 1999, New Jersey adopted an aggressive Renewable Portfolio Standard, which included a carve-out for solar energy. The generous rebates caused increased demand for solar installations, resulting in more applications for rebates and longer wait-times, undermining confidence in the program.

In 2007, in order to develop more structure and a consistent and transparent process to handle increased growth, the Board of Public Utility’s (BPU) Office of Clean Energy (OCE) contracted with Honeywell, which hired VEIC and the Conservation Services Group (CSG) to help meet the challenges posed by the rapidly developing program.

Solution:

Under the Honeywell contract, VEIC developed efficient program processes and consistent timelines for application approval, project completion paperwork, rebate processing, and quality control procedures. By developing program guidebooks and improving data accuracy, the program became more transparent.

Through outreach and program training, VEIC encouraged project developers, solar installers, power purchase agreement brokers, and other market actors to expand business activities in New Jersey and participate in the burgeoning solar market.

Towards the end of 2010, the solar market had grown so significantly in New Jersey that the program shifted away from rebates to Solar Renewable Energy Credits (SRECs), a more market-based approach. The program remains in place today, helping to maintain a mature solar industry supported by established market actors.

Results:

  • New Jersey ranks first in the United States in the non-residential solar market, and third in the overall solar market.
  • The base of solar installers has expanded from a few contractors in 2007 to almost 200 companies in 2013.
  • New Jersey has installed over 1 gigawatt of solar energy, with over 22,500 projects.
  • An improved database ensures accurate data and quality control.
  • Program transparency has improved through reporting, website updates, and other means.