In New Jersey Community Choice is called Government Energy Aggregation (GEA). For the last ten years New Jersey has also had very effective policies for encouraging the installation of solar photovoltaic systems. By April 2017, more than 73,000 solar photovoltaic (PV) facilities were installed around the state on residential and business rooftops, with solar capacity exceeding 1,630 megawatts from distributed generation and 495 megawatts from utility-scale generation. In 2016, solar power supplied 74% of New Jersey’s renewable electricity generation from both utility and distributed (customer-sited, small-scale) sources. Nearly two-thirds of that solar electricity came from distributed solar panels.
Community Choice in the Garden State came into being in 1999 as part of the electricity deregulation movement. It was followed by a more specific Government Energy Aggregation Act in 2003, but an opt-in requirement and cost cap stymied the growth of GEAs. Subsequent legislation removed these barriers and the first GEA programs launched in 2012.
New Jersey’s experiment with an opt-in aggregation demonstrated that CCAs really need to be designed as opt-out programs in order to succeed. Only with the automatic enrollment of all customers, except those who opt out, can a CCA reach the critical mass necessary to attract suppliers and succeed as a business.
New aggregation programs are initiated by majority vote of the municipality’s elected body and must be approved by the Board of Public Utilities.
New Jersey now allows the automatic enrollment of residential customers, but it still requires commercial and municipal accounts to opt in during a specified period.
In 2012 Plumstead Township was the first community to initiate GEA in New Jersey. Other early adopters were Toms River, Montgomery and Monroe Townships. Each of those communities continues to offer GEA to its residents.
- Plumstead Township issued its third RFQ in early 2016 and signed a 22-month electricity supply contract with TriEagle Energy that took effect in March, 2016.
- When Toms River Township’s initial contract was scheduled to end, the township did not receive any bids that were significantly below the price charged by Jersey Central Power and Light, and so it returned its customers to bundled service from JCP&L in June, 2015. Later, however, a rebidding process was able to obtain savings and Toms River’s GEA began offering aggregated electricity service again in March, 2016 under a 21-month contract with TriEagle Energy.
- Montgomery Township awarded an 18-month contract to TriEagle that began in June, 2016.
- Monroe Township awarded a 24-month contract to TriEagle Energy that began in December, 2015.
COMMUNITIES WITH GEA PROGRAMS
As of January, 2017, this list shows the 53 municipalities, by service territory, listed in the state of new Jersey with Government Energy Aggregation Plans.
NEW JERSEY DISTRIBUTION UTILITIES
- Atlantic City Electric (an Excelon company)
- JCP&L (Jersey Central Power & Light, a FirstEnergy company)
- PSE&G (Public Service Electric & Gas)
- Orange & Rockland (a Consolidated Edison subsidiary)
CURRENT AND EMERGING ISSUES
New Jersey’s GEA statute prohibits aggregation if the rate charged to customers isn’t lower than the current default rate charged by the local distribution utility. There is an exception to this if the program includes a higher percentage of green energy than is required by the current NJ renewable portfolio standard.
- The total RPS requirement in New Jersey including solar carve out is 24.39% by EY 2028. Details can be found here.
- New Jersey ranks fifth among US states in installed solar photovoltaic capacity.
- New Jersey legislators have attempted to implement an RPS calling for 80% of electricity to come from renewable sources by 2050. A bill to do this (S1707) passed the Senate in 2016. However, the bill did not pass the Assembly and Gov. Christie has threatened to veto it if it reaches his desk.
LEGISLATION (Partial List)
- Assembly Bill 2165 (2003) Government Energy Aggregation Act of 2003 (c. 24, “GEA Act”), authorized municipalities and/or counties to establish GEA programs after passing an ordinance or a resolution.
- The provisions governing the formation and conduct of GEA programs can be found at N.J.S.A. 48:3-92 – N.J.S.A. 48:3-95. (N.J.S.A. stands for New Jersey Statutes Annotated).
- The Board of Public Utilities’ rules for GEA programs can be found in N.J.A.C. 14:4-6, Government Energy Aggregation Programs. (N.J.A.C. stands for New Jersey Administrative Code).
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