New Jersey receives record number of applications for community solar pilot program

The New Jersey Board of Public Utilities (NJBPU) announced it received a record 410 applications to participate in Year 2 of its Community Solar Energy Pilot Program. 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 Governor Murphy’s push to 100% clean energy by 2050.

With over 135,000 solar installations, the Garden State is No. 1 in the country for installed solar capacity per square mile, and according to the National Renewable Energy Laboratory 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,” said Governor 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 historic 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.”

“Community solar is the key to unlocking clean energy benefits for the many New Jerseyans who have historically been unable to participate in the green revolution,” said NJBPU president Joseph L. Fiordaliso. “Through our Pilot Program, we can further the promise of environmental justice for our most underserved communities while deploying the renewable energy necessary to reduce our emissions and improve public health for all. Community solar is a win-win for our residents, our growing green economy, and the planet.”

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.

In January, Governor Murphy celebrated the completion of the first community solar projects energized as part of Year 1 of the Pilot 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. Once fully implemented, the Pilot Program is expected to generate enough solar energy to power over 45,000 homes.

NJBPU will process and score the 410 applications for Year 2 of the Pilot Program 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.

Projects must score a minimum of 50 points for consideration in the Pilot Program and will be awarded capacity in descending order for each EDC territory, starting with the highest-scoring project and proceeding to the lowest-scoring project.

For more information about New Jersey’s Community Solar Energy Pilot Program, visit www.njcleanenergy.com/renewable-energy/programs/community-solar/.

News item from the New Jersey Board of Public Utilities

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