Study finds New Jersey community solar pilot program could bring huge economic benefit

Today, a new report was released by solar advocates that analyzes the potential economic impact New Jersey could expect from the recently passed community solar pilot program. The report analyzed the impact of a 450-MW community solar pilot program implemented over a three-year period, and found that New Jersey can expect the following economic benefits:

? 1,778 sustained full-time jobs during construction and an additional 41 sustained full time jobs associated with operations and maintenance.

? $414.7 million in earnings for those employed.

? $797.9 million in local economic benefits for the state, excepting local tax revenues.

? $3.3 million from property tax revenues in the first year alone.

Governor Murphy and the New Jersey legislature recently passed community solar enabling legislation that requires the implementation of a three-year pilot program and the establishment of a permanent program after 36 months. Community solar refers to local solar facilities shared by multiple community subscribers who receive credits on their electricity bills for their share of the power produced. Community solar provides homeowners, renters, and businesses equal access to the economic and environmental benefits of solar energy generation regardless of the physical attributes or ownership of their home or business.

The report was prepared by Vote Solar, a nonprofit organization working to lower solar costs and expand solar access across the U.S. They used the Jobs and Economic Impact (JEDI) Model developed by the National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL) to reasonably estimate the employment, earnings and economic impacts from the construction and operation of the solar energy facilities that could be expected if New Jersey adopts the minimum target of 450 MW over a three-year period. 450 MW has been recommended by many stakeholders as the minimum program size necessary to drive investment in the state’s clean energy sector, achieve economies of scale, ensure all New Jersey’s communities gain access to community solar, and meaningfully contribute to the state’s 2030 clean electricity requirements.

The report also analyzed the costs associated with implementing a 450 MW program and found them to be negligible for customers: less than the cost of a postage stamp per month for New Jersey ratepayers. The full version of the report can be found here: Community Solar: Ready To Work For New Jersey.

Following are statements from solar advocates and industry representatives:

“Community solar holds a promise to expand access to affordable energy while creating jobs and growing New Jersey’s clean power sector. These tangible economic benefits are an important part of the Garden State’s leadership and success in building a modern, 21st-century clean energy system that equitably serves everyone. We are glad to see New Jersey implement policies that align environmental goals with economic goals.” said Pari Kasotia, mid-Atlantic director for Vote Solar.

“Community solar is ready to scale and play a meaningful role in New Jersey’s overall energy mix. Industry stands ready to invest and create high quality clean energy jobs across the state and increase New Jerseyans access to clean, affordable solar energy,” said Brandon Smithwood, policy director for the Coalition for Community Solar Access. “Now we need the New Jersey Board of Public Utilities to act boldly and create program rules that provide long-term policy certainty and a program size that is robust enough to accomplish the program’s stated objectives.”

News item from Vote Solar

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