The board opened the application window for the state’s new, permanent community solar program on Nov. 15, with a 225 MW capacity block available for development for Energy Year 2024, representing the first opportunity for developers to participate since the establishment of the CSEP.
“I am thrilled at the amount of interest we have received in the first year of our permanent Community Solar Energy Program, a major achievement for advancing our equitable clean energy transition,” NJBPU President Christine Guhl-Sadovy said. “Community solar allows those who live in low- and moderate-income communities or cannot otherwise access solar due to their location to reap the benefits of renewable energy and save money on their bills.”
The CSEP builds on the success of the two-year pilot program in advancing equity within the solar sector. New community solar projects will be sited in all four major utility service territories, and this year’s program capacity will support enough community solar projects to enroll about 30,000 New Jersey subscribers.
Importantly, the board is requiring all community solar projects serve a minimum of 51% low- to moderate-income subscribers, as measured by capacity subscribed.
Community solar subscribers will be guaranteed a minimum discount on their utility bill. Projects must state a guaranteed bill credit discount of no less than 15% in their registration, which will apply for the duration of customers’ subscription. Projects may choose to offer a greater discount, including special discounts to LMI subscribers, and projects with greater discounts will be given priority if program capacity is exceeded during an initial registration period.
During the initial CSEP registration period, applications for the Public Service Electric & Gas service territory exceeded the 129 MW of capacity available, and no further registrations will be accepted until the board allocates additional capacity.
Since Gov. Phil Murphy and the Legislature created the Community Solar Pilot Program in 2018, the board has approved 150 projects totaling 243 MW of capacity. To date, 88 of those projects, totaling 130 MW, have reached commercial operation, which provides over 16,000 New Jersey households the benefits of solar power, including financial savings.