1st solar project in N.J. is complete

Project, in Perth Amboy, is part of pilot program to increase green energy in state

Calling it a “monumental milestone” in his commitment to renewable energy, Gov. Phil Murphy on Thursday celebrated the completion of the first community solar project energized in the state.

The project, constructed in Perth Amboy by New Jersey developer Solar Landscape, was developed as part of the New Jersey Board of Public Utilities’ Community Solar Energy Pilot Program. The program, established in 2019 by an executive order, is meant to ensure underserved and overburdened communities can access the health and financial benefits of renewable energy.

(To read more about New Jersey’s Community Solar Energy Pilot Program, click here.)

“Since Day One, my administration has been clear on our pursuit of an equitable and inclusive clean energy future for all New Jerseyans,” Murphy said. “The Community Solar Energy Pilot Program is a smart and sustainable component of our clean energy future that positions New Jersey as a world leader in the innovation economy, while investing in communities and ensuring environmental justice for all.”

Officials said project is another step in the administration’s commitment to environmental justice by expanding access to renewable energy. Murphy has set a goal of 100% clean energy by 2050.

In 2019, the Board of Public Utilities awarded nearly 78 megawatts to 45 projects based on their location, community engagement and local benefits, particularly for low- and moderate-income communities. All 45 projects will dedicate at least 51% of their capacity to LMI households.

The second year of the program, which opened in October 2020 with applications due Feb. 5, has allotted 150 MW of community solar energy capacity — doubling the capacity of year one and ensuring at least 40% of awarded projects serve LMI communities.

The pilot program is administered by the New Jersey Board of Public Utilities’ Clean Energy Program and provides access to solar energy through a subscription-based model that virtually connects customers to a solar installation within their electric utility company’s territory. The resulting energy output is divided among multiple participants known as subscribers, which can be homes or businesses, and reflected as a credit on their utility bill. This allows households — which previously lacked access due to cost, shaded property or lack of roof control — to participate in a more equitable solar market.

BPU President Joseph Fiordaliso said the program is achieving its goals.

“We could not be more pleased with the progress of our first year of community solar projects, and are thrilled to recognize the first completed projects today,” he said. “From the job-creation aspects of community solar to expanding access to renewable energy to more New Jerseyans, especially in historically underserved communities, we look forward to continuing this successful program with the program’s second round of awards later this year.”

Here are some selected comments on the project:

  • U.S. Rep. Frank Pallone (D-6th Dist.): “New Jersey is on the frontline of the climate crisis, and I’m proud that our state is leading the way on our path toward a clean, low-carbon future. These investments help ensure our state is ready to tackle the challenges of the climate crisis head on. Climate change is an opportunity to empower our workers with new, good-paying jobs and to prioritize the needs and the voices of our environmental justice communities. Today, it’s clear that, when we invest in green technology, we don’t have to choose between fighting climate change and economic growth.”
  • Assembly Speaker Craig Coughlin (D-Woodbridge): “Clean energy is the wave of the future and we must embrace it as we seek to address climate change for the generations to come. I am proud that the first community solar project to come online is in my home county of Middlesex. Clean energy, like solar, is not only good for our environment, it also creates sustainable jobs for thousands of New Jersey residents. Now, Perth Amboy residents can elect to have their clean energy sourced right from their own backyard.”
  • Duke Realty Senior Vice President Art Makris: “Duke Realty is committed to sustainable development like our four-building community in Perth Amboy. Partnering with Solar Landscape, the solar project covering 1 million square feet of rooftop generates 11.1 megawatts of clean electricity. In total, Duke Realty has helped generate 28.2 megawatts of clean electric power on roofs across the country annually.”