The New Jersey Board of Public Utilities (NJBPU) has approved the Year 2 application and process for the state’s Community Solar Energy Pilot Program. This action ensures underserved and overburdened communities can access the health and financial benefits of renewable energy.
“Community solar is a key element of Governor Murphy’s vision for 100% clean energy by 2050,” says Joseph L. Fiordaliso, president of NJBPU. “The dual benefit of the pilot program is that we can expand renewable energy in New Jersey while increasing access to its benefits for our historically underserved communities. We know that meaningful climate action is inextricably linked to addressing the burdens faced by environmental justice communities. By leveling the playing field, we will ensure an equitable and inclusive clean energy economy that creates jobs, combats climate change and provides benefits for all New Jersey residents.”
The pilot program is administered by New Jersey’s Clean Energy Program and provides access to solar energy through a subscription-based model that virtually connects customers to a solar installation within their electric utility company’s territory. The resulting energy output is divided among multiple participants known as subscribers, which can be homes or businesses, and reflected as a credit on their utility bill. This allows households who previously lacked access – due to cost, shaded property or lack of roof control – to participate in a more equitable solar market. Community solar makes ‘going solar’ possible without having to purchase, install or maintain solar panels.
Program Year 2 has allotted 150 MW of community solar energy capacity – double the capacity of Year 1 – and includes a carve-out to ensure at least 40% of awarded projects serve low- to moderate-income (LMI) customers. In Program Year 1, NJBPU awarded 78 MW to 45 projects, all of which will dedicate at least 51% of their capacity to LMI communities.
The Year 2 application process incorporates feedback and lessons learned from Year 1 gathered during an ongoing public stakeholder process. The three-year pilot program, which the board established in January 2019, is gathering market information and implementation data to inform the development of a permanent community solar program for the state. Staff will begin working with stakeholders to develop the permanent program in this fall.
Applications for Year 2 are due Feb. 5, 2021, at 5:00 p.m. ET. Staff will provide further details for submitting applications when the online application portal launches. Applications will be reviewed and scored based on evaluation criteria.
For more information about New Jersey’s Community Solar Energy Pilot Program, click here.
Photo: New Jersey’s Clean Energy Program’s landing page