The New Jersey Board of Public Utilities approved 105 applications on Oct. 28 to participate in year two of New Jersey’s Community Solar Energy Pilot Program, making 165 megawatts – or enough to power approximately 33,000 homes – available to low-to-moderate income and historically underserved communities.
“Our Community Solar Pilot Program is a national model for clean energy equity and environmental justice,” said Gov. Phil Murphy in a prepared statement. “This program not only makes solar available to those in historically underserved communities, but also will spur economic growth and create career opportunities for a diverse, more inclusive workforce. Community solar is a key pillar in our commitment to transition New Jersey away from harmful emissions and towards 100 percent clean energy by 2050.”
A community solar project is a solar array whose output is divided between multiple homes or businesses that want to use renewable energy but don’t have a solar array on-site, whether because they rent and lack control of their roof, live in an apartment or multifamily building, or cannot afford the cost of a solar installation.
Community solar programs aim to create a more equitable solar market.
“Community Solar is a critical component of our solar programs in making sure that the clean energy and cost savings of solar are available to everyone,” NJBPU President Joseph Fiordaliso. “It is especially important that these benefits are available to environmental justice and low-income communities when they have been underserved for so long. I look forward to making our successful pilot program into a permanent program.”
The year two projects will each allocate a minimum of 51% of their capacity to low- and moderate-income participants. They will all be located on landfills, brownfields or rooftops.
Though 105 projects were approved, the NJBPU received 412 applications, representing almost 804 MW, for the second pilot year.
Fiordaliso announced earlier in October that the board would move forward with steps to make the Community Solar Pilot Program permanent.
As such, there will not be a third year of the pilot program. Rather, the BPU will move directly into the permanent program, anticipated to be up and running next year.
In the pilot program’s first year, the board received a total of 252 applications representing more than 650 MW of total capacity, and approved 45 applications providing almost 78 MW in solar energy capacity, the announcement said.
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