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Red Tape: New Jersey’s Energy Regulations Deter Residents From Installing Photovoltaics

Red Tape: New Jersey’s Energy Regulations Deter Residents From Installing Photovoltaics

Alicia Artessa

New Jersey’s current energy regulations regarding solar photovoltaic (PV) use are not reaching their stated purpose. New Jersey’s Residential Development Solar Energy Systems Act set forth commendable goals for an ambitious approach toward solar energy use. The Herculean standards the State government has set would, ostensibly, make using solar energy sources on the residential level an attainable goal. However, the regulations, in effect, negate the purpose of encouraging the use of solar energy sources.[1]

In addition to energy regulations, New Jersey’s Clean Energy Program (Program) provides incentives for consumers to install renewable energy systems.[2]  Seemingly, New Jersey attempts to promote the use of renewable energy sources, specifically PV, to combat climate change.[3] However, the current Program is satiated with issues that dissuade residents from installing PV. For example, solar energy consumers are eligible to receive Solar Renewable Energy Certificates (SREC). For each 1,000 kilowatt-hours of electricity generated by the system, consumers earn one credit, which they can then sell.  Consumers must generate more kilowatt-hours to receive a larger credit. This cumbersome system of rebates does not diminish the initial installation costs and also disincentivizes conservation.[4]

Because New Jersey prides itself as one of the fastest growing markets for solar PV in the United States,[5] it is interesting that its regulations are so inconvenient and its incentives so ineffective for homeowners.  It is difficult to install solar energy systems on the residential level in New Jersey because the process is so time-consuming and expensive. Without streamlined installation regulations and generous incentives, people are unlikely to install solar energy systems.

This Note compares New Jersey’s solar energy regulations and incentive programs to those in California and Germany. Specifically, I analyze California’s Solar Initiative and compare it to New Jersey’s Clean Energy Program. Then, I analyze Germany’s Renewable Energy Sources Act and compare it to New Jersey’s Residential Development Solar Energy Systems Act. Finally, I recommend that New Jersey model its system on California’s incentive programs and Germany’s environmental legislation. New Jersey could make residential use of solar energy systems a viable option for average citizens if it removed the red tape surrounding its energy regulations and looked materially and internationally for homeowner friendly alternatives.

Questions and inquiries regarding this Note may be forwarded to the author at LawReview@vermontlaw.edu.


[1] N.J. STAT. ANN. § 52:27D-120 (West 2009).

[2] New Jersey’s Clean Energy Program, http://www.njcleanenergy.com/ (last visited Feb. 1, 2014).

[3]Id.

[4] SREC Registration Program, http://www.njcleanenergy.com/renewable-energy/programs/solar-renewable-energy-certificates-srec/new-jersey-solar-renewable-energy (last visited Feb. 1, 2014).

[5] Renewable Energy Incentive Program, http://www.njcleanenergy.com/renewable-energy/programs/renewable-energy-incentive-program (last visited Feb. 1, 2014).

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