Expansion of Solar Energy in New Jersey
With the extension of the Solar 4 All, an approved initiative by New Jersey’s Board of Public Utilities, the state is about to see a major increase in solar energy. Public Service Gas & Electric Co. (PSE&G) will spend $440 million over the next three years while the state will have more oversight of the program including monthly progress updates. The funds will pay for 42 megawatts (MW) of solar farms and another 3 MW of smaller projects. It will also fund a loan program that finances systems for homeowners and businesses.
Thus far Solar 4 All has installed 80 MW of solar PV in the state. Half of that is attached to utility poles across the state and the other half consists of large, centralized solar farms, mostly on formerly contaminated land (brownfields) and landfills.
In March, New Jersey became the third state to pass the 1 gigawatt (GW) milestone, joining California and Arizona. In fact, California just surpassed 2 GW.
Most of New Jersey’s solar power is highly distributed on rooftops, parking canopies, landfills and brownfields. There are about 21,000 solar projects in the state: 15,500 on homes, 3,000 on businesses, 300 on schools and 200 on government buildings. There are three county-wide projects.
New Jersey is #3 in the country for solar capacity with 775 MW, and that’s expected to triple by 2020. That growth supports 5,700 solar jobs, according to Solar Energy Industry Association data.
The state is on track to meet its Renewable Portfolio Standard, which requires solar to supply 2.05 percent of electricity by 2014 (it’s less than 0.5 percent now) and 4.1 percent by 2028. By 2021, 22.5 percent must come from renewable energy.