NJBPU Approves Community Solar Energy Pilot Program

The three-year initiative is an essential component of Governor Murphy’s clean energy agenda, which aims to reach 100 percent clean energy by 2050.

The New Jersey Board of Public Utilities has approved the three-year Community Solar Energy Pilot Program Rules, a component of Governor Phil Murphy’s clean energy agenda. The pilot will set aside 40 percent of the overall program’s capacity to serve low- and moderate-income customers.

Solar power to the people

The initiative is meant to make solar available to more state residents by allowing customers of an electric public utility to participate in a solar project not located on their property, but in the subscriber’s utility service territory. To join, customers sign up for a community solar subscription through which they either purchase an ownership share of the community solar system or sign up for a recurring monthly subscription.

The Community Solar Pilot has an annual capacity limit of 75 megawatts for the first year and at least 75 megawatts for the second and third years—roughly estimated to cover the electric usage of 45,000 households. The benefit of participating in the program is represented as a bill credit on each subscriber’s utility bill.

Solar energy is an essential component of Governor Murphy’s clean energy agenda. He has set a goal of 100 percent clean energy by 2050, which includes 3.5 gigawatts of offshore wind energy by 2030 and the state’s solar initiatives such as community solar and the transition to a new, more cost-effective solar energy program.

“Solar has been extremely successful in New Jersey—with the state having passed 100,000 installations in 2018—but has not been accessible for everyone,” NJBPU President Joseph Fiordaliso said in a prepared statement. “The point of this pilot program is to take the first step toward ensuring that we change this dynamic.”