Low-Income Solar Is The Goal Of 225 Megawatt New Jersey Community Solar Program
New Jersey has firmly embraced the concept of solar for all with its new 225 megawatt community solar program, within which 40% of all capacity is earmarked for low- and moderate-income consumers. The three-year pilot program was designed by the New Jersey Board of Public Utilities (BPU) to serve up to 30,000 homes. The evolution of the project will determine the terms of the permanent program thereafter.
As part of new law A3723/S2314, signed by Governor Phil Murphy in May 2018, the BPU will establish a remote net metering application process to approve a certified public entity that is the host customer and the primary account holder.
The new law which mandates the creation of the Community Solar Energy Pilot Program, in consultation with PJM Interconnection, the independent system operator. The application process for the new program should open to developers by March, and local planning boards should start receiving projects proposals from developers thereafter.
A 2018 study from GTM Research found that community solar has the potential to deliver energy savings for more than 400,000 customers in New Jersey, including a quarter million low-to-moderate income and affordable housing customers, by 2030. The program would permit a customer of an electric public utility to participate in a solar energy project with a capacity of 5 MW or less.
A.B. 3723, enacted in May 2018, also included several updates to the state’s Renewable Energy Portfolio standard including increasing the RPS standard to 50% by 2030. Another change is an increase in the offshore wind carveout up to 3,500 MW, and in the Solar carveout, now set at 4.1% by 2030.
The law also permits the BPU to approve for energy years 2019 and 2020 up to a total of 100 megawatts of auctioned capacity of solar electric power generation facility projects under the state’s existing Solar Renewable Energy Certificates (SRECs) program.
“Community solar gives everyone, regardless of their income level or what kind of building they call home, the opportunity to benefit from safe, healthy, affordable solar power. We thank Governor Murphy, state lawmakers from both sides of the aisle, and the BPU for showing the state and the nation what it means to build a just and equitable clean energy economy,” said Pari Kasotia, Mid-Atlantic Director for Vote Solar, on the announcement of the program rules.