Updated February 23, 2024
New Jersey – September 19, 2023 – In a landmark decision on August 16, the New Jersey Board of Public Utilities (NJBPU) voted to establish a permanent Community Solar Energy Program (CSEP). This solar initiative builds on the resounding success of a two-year pilot program, marking a significant step forward in expanding access to clean energy across the state.
Governor Phil Murphy Commends the Program
New Jersey Governor Phil Murphy expressed his enthusiasm for the program's continuation, saying, "By building on the successes of our nation-leading Community Solar Program, we will continue to expand access among New Jersey families to the significant benefits of clean energy." Governor Murphy emphasized the importance of making clean energy accessible to all residents, including low- and moderate-income households and renters.
Milestones Achieved Through the Pilot Program
Since its inception in 2018, the Community Solar Pilot Program has achieved remarkable milestones. The NJBPU approved 150 projects with a total capacity of 243 MW. To date, 29 projects, totaling 50 MW, have reached commercial operation, benefiting over 6,000 New Jersey households by providing them with solar power and financial savings. An additional 97 projects are expected to start serving customers in the coming months.
NJBPU President Joseph L. Fiordaliso's Perspective
NJBPU President Joseph L. Fiordaliso expressed his delight, stating, "I am thrilled that the Board has made our extremely popular and successful Community Solar Program permanent." He emphasized the importance of community solar in extending clean energy access to residents in low-to-moderate income communities and urban areas where traditional solar installations are not feasible.
Equity and Inclusivity at the Core
New Jersey's Community Solar Energy Program prioritizes inclusivity by allowing renters, residents in multi-family buildings, and those who lack suitable property for solar installations to benefit from clean energy and cost savings. The permanent program maintains the requirement that all community solar projects serve a minimum of 51% low and moderate-income (LMI) subscribers.
Guaranteed Utility Bill Discounts
A significant feature of the permanent program is the assurance of utility bill discounts for community solar subscribers. Projects are mandated to provide a guaranteed bill credit discount of no less than 15%, which will apply throughout customers' subscription periods. Projects offering higher discounts, including special rates for LMI subscribers, will receive priority if program capacity is exceeded during initial registration.
Finding Community Solar Projects
Residents interested in subscribing to community solar projects can utilize the NJBPU's Community Solar Project Finder to locate projects serving their area.
Capacity and Expansion Plans
The permanent CSEP permits community solar projects of up to 5 MW on various sites, including rooftops, carports, impervious surfaces, contaminated sites, landfills, and specified bodies of water such as water treatment reservoirs and dredge ponds.
The NJBPU plans to open the application window for a 225-MW capacity block for Energy Year (EY) 2024 in November 2023. Additionally, a second application period for at least 225 MW in EY 2025 will commence on June 1, 2024. These initiatives will support the development of community solar projects across all major utility service territories, with an estimated enrollment of approximately 30,000 New Jersey subscribers for the upcoming year.
For more information on New Jersey's Community Solar Energy Program, please visit the official website of State of New Jersey Board of Public Utilities.
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