The applications represent 800.5 MW of total capacity and all but one project have committed to serving low- to moderate-income (LMI) communities. The program offers guaranteed savings for LMI households and more equitable access to clean energy benefits. Clean energy equity is a critical goal of Gov. Phil Murphy’s push to 100% clean energy by 2050.
With over 135,000 solar installations, New Jersey ranks first in the country for installed solar capacity per square mile. According to the National Renewable Energy Laboratory, the state has the most planned community solar capacity serving LMI households.
“Our commitment to a stronger and fairer New Jersey has been our highest priority since day one,” says Murphy. “Transitioning our state to clean energy will not only reduce the harmful emissions polluting our air, but it will also spur much-needed economic growth and create career opportunities for a diverse workforce to participate in the clean energy innovation economy. Our Community Solar Energy Pilot Program is a national example for its focus on clean energy equity and will help to inform the development of a permanent community solar program with environmental justice at its core.”
The Community Solar Energy Pilot Program, which is administered by New Jersey’s Clean Energy Program, provides access to solar energy through a subscription-based model that allows residents and businesses to virtually connect to a solar installation within their electric distribution company’s (EDC) service territory. This provides customers usually excluded from the solar market – due to factors like cost, shaded property or lack of roof control – the opportunity to participate in and benefit from the clean energy economy.
In January, Murphy celebrated the completion of the first community solar projects energized as part of Year 1 of the program – two installations representing nearly 7 MW in Perth Amboy constructed by New Jersey-based developer Solar Landscape. These projects alone created over 50 permanent, well-paying local jobs that contribute to New Jersey’s equitable clean energy future.
Year 2 of the Pilot Program is anticipated to allocate 150 MW of award capacity (double that of Year 1) and includes a 40% earmark for projects serving mostly LMI households. NJBPU will process and score the 410 applications for Year 2 based on the evaluation criteria included in the application form appendix – which place particular emphasis on LMI and environmental justice inclusion, low-impact siting and community engagement.
For more information about New Jersey’s Community Solar Energy Pilot Program, click here.