Legislation designed to encourage the development of solar energy - and increase solar installations - has been passed by the New Jersey state Senate.

The measure requires electric energy suppliers to purchase a certain amount of solar energy every year.

State Senator Bob Smith – one of the sponsors of the bill – says “solar power has become so popular in New Jersey that the supply of solar energy has grown faster than the demand from energy companies – who are required to purchase a minimum amount of their energy from solar supplies each year.”

He adds “rather than allowing this market’s growth to stagnate, and the production of clean and domestically-produced solar energy to slow, we need to continue to supply incentives for New Jerseyans to purchase and install solar equipment, while keeping costs down for electric ratepayers. This bill is a great step in avoiding another bust of New Jersey’s solar market.”

Senate President Steve Sweeney – another sponsor – says “as the solar industry has boomed over the past few years in New Jersey, it has become an economic engine for good, well-paying construction and installation jobs throughout the state.  But with the dramatic fall of solar energy incentive prices, there is a serious concern that development and installation of solar systems will dry up and these jobs will be lost - this legislation will stabilize the market and encourage businesses and individuals to continue to purchase and install solar equipment on their property.”

Jersey is second in the nation in solar energy production. The measure now heads to the Assembly for consideration.