The New Jersey Board of Public Utilities (NJBPU) earlier this season released a proposal that will establish a new Community Pilot Program over the course of the next three years. The community solar program will primarily benefit customers in many surprising and revolutionary ways. 2018 has been a big year for solar energy in New Jersey. This past May, governor Phil Murphy signed a bill that will effectively mandate more solar and renewable energy programs be given priority in order to push New Jersey forward with sustainable and clean energy. The bill itself is designed to target three specific areas of solar and renewable energy utility including offshore wind and energy efficiency and storage. The signing of the bill this past May made New Jersey the 18th state to mandate community solar energy programs. 

In the next three years, 75 MW of new solar capacity will be built per year to serve multi-family community buildings with on-site solar community grid projects. Those who participate in the program, typically referred to as subscribers, will be able credit some of their energy bill utility for energy used by the community solar grid, simply for participating.  

Remote Participation in Solar Energy 

One of the biggest hurdles for most families to receive and utilize solar energy is location. Especially in highly populated cities with little roof space, or space in general, for any kind of solar panels or grids. The solution in recent years to bring solar energy to all communities in the United States, and especially cities with high-demand for utility and energy needs, has been the implementation of community solar energy grids. This solar energy pilot program will allow remote access to solar energy for residents and home owners in New Jersey who may be in locations or live in buildings that make traditional solar panel grids impractical. These community solar grids will allow residents state-wide, regardless of location or available space, to enjoy the benefits of solar energy utility.  

Additionally, through online solar community organization systems, researchers will also be able to take a look at these online solar community systems in order to continue to implement policies that specifically serve the needs of given communities based on their usage. By evaluating and studying the needs of these communities in the coming years, the Community Energy Solar Energy Pilot Program will ensure that researchers establish patterns that will help them offer the most effective and reliable solar utility solutions for years to come.  

Benefitting Low-Income Families 

New Jersey’s community solar program will benefit low-income and moderate-income families, with 40% of the available capacity of the energy generated by the solar community grids being allotted to those communities specifically. For certain areas, the Board of Public Utilities will even have the option to supplement an additional 10% of the capacity to lower income families if there are regions that would particularly benefit. 

Joseph Fiordaliso told Solar Industry Mag this past September that, as president of the New Jersey Board of Public Utility, his immediate concern is to address the needs of the low to moderate-income customers they serve. He strongly believes that these new mandates outlined in the community solar pilot program will serve the population as a whole, without excluding any populations or communities based on income or location. 

Additional Benefits for New Jersey 

A report outlined by Vote Solar predicted the potential implications for the state of New Jersey once the three-year community solar project is underway. The economic impacts include over 1,778 new full-time jobs at the time of construction on the project, as well as 41 full-time operations and maintenance jobs. Earnings for those currently employed are expected to rise, local tax revenues and property tax revenues will ultimately increase. For the upfront costs, taxpayers in the state will be relieved to know that this community solar project will cost residents a miniscule amount. The benefits and minimal costs have New Jersey state officials, along with residents and proponents of solar energy, excited for this new, cleaner and more efficient era for the state. 

Resources 

https://solarindustrymag.com/n-j-governor-signs-landmark-bills-to-create-community-solar-mandate-more-renewables/ 

https://solarindustrymag.com/new-jersey-moves-closer-to-community-solar/ 

https://solarindustrymag.com/what-to-know-about-new-jerseys-new-community-solar-program/ 

 

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