California and Massachusetts have long been bastions of clean energy. Now you can add New Jersey to the list.
Since the beginning of the year, the New Jersey State Legislature has passed several laws to promote the development of renewable energy sources.
One significant law is the Solar Energy Advancement and Fair Competition Act which requires New Jersey to obtain a significant portion of its electricity from solar generating facilities. State energy providers must now collectively purchase at least 300GWh of solar electricity generation in the first year, June 2010 to May 2011.
Furthermore, the law calls for the amount of required solar energy generation to increase as much as 20% each year until 2026, when the requirement will be almost 5,500GWh of solar generation. The NJ Board of Public Utilities was empowered to enforce this law and to increase (but not decrease) the statewide energy totals.
Another new law sees the creation of the New Jersey Solar and Wind Energy Commission to study the feasibility of solar and wind energy installation on state-owned property. After a year of investigation, the Commission will submit a report about the financial implications of installing and maintaining renewable energy projects on state land or buildings – and the projected cost savings.
The Commission will also examine the impact of solar and wind on property values, land use, planning and development, and environmental factors. The Commission's report is limited to state land, but its findings could provide incentives for the development of solar and wind energy on private property in New Jersey.
In January, the State Legislature also approved a new clean energy legislation which provides several incentives for solar, wind, and biomass energy on farmland. These bills specifically stipulate that biomass energy on “preserved farmland” must be produced on the same farm where the biomass feedstock is generated. Preserved farms are also limited to 110% of annual onsite consumption.
Finally, New Jersey recently passed a renewable energy law which prohibits local ordinances that unreasonably limit small wind energy installations. These restrictive rules have included prohibiting installation of small wind systems, or requiring unreasonable setbacks or noise restrictions.
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