The New Jersey Board of Public Utilities approved 45 applications Friday for first-year participants in its Community Solar Energy Pilot Program.
The NJBPU reserved 40 percent of the program’s scope for projects in which at least 51 percent of the capacity serves low- to moderate-income communities; 100 percent of approved renewable energy projects will serve those households.
A community solar project is a solar array whose output is divided among multiple participants, known as subscribers. A subscriber can be a home or business that wants to use renewable energy but does not have an supply on-site.
The approved projects will all be located on landfills, brownfields, rooftops or parking canopies. Some of the accepted applicants include community groups, government entities and private developers. The projects represent 77.61 megawatts of solar energy capacity, enough to power an estimated 15,500 homes.
The Community Solar Energy Pilot Program is a key component of Gov. Phil Murphy’s goal of achieving 100 percent clean energy by 2050. With community solar, low- and moderate-income households will be able to participate in a more equitable market through projects located within their electric public utility’s distribution territory.
The Board of Public Utilities anticipates awarding at least an additional 75 megawatts during both the second and third years of the program, which will provide electricity to an estimated 45,000 homes over the three-year period.
In early 2020 the BPU will ask for stakeholder feedback in response to the first year of the program; the second year of the program will be opened in 2020. The pilot program will generate crucial market information and implementation data, and will inform the development of a permanent community solar program once the three-year pilot is completed.