Murphy celebrates Earth Week by laying out landmark solar investments

Gov. Phil Murphy celebrated the culmination of Earth Week by unveiling a slew of new solar initiatives. The initiatives set forth will not only boost accessibility across the board and make solar more affordable for residents than ever before, but will bolster New Jersey’s momentum and reaffirm its commitment to achieve 100% clean electricity by 2035.

“Earth Week is not just a time for reflection or contemplation. It is a time for action. It is a time to take bold steps in caring for our environment and advocating for our neighbors who have endured generations of environmental injustice,” Murphy said. “New Jersey is all-in on clean energy. We are on track this year to procure more solar than ever before, which will help us hit all of our solar goals, and, more importantly, make solar energy more affordable and accessible than ever before while righting many wrongs of the past.”

Five major investments in clean energy were announced that will ultimately enable New Jersey to meet its goal of reducing emissions by 80% by 2050.

The first investment, awarded to New Jersey this week by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, is $156.1 million through the Solar For All competition, which is part of the historic $27 billion Greenhouse Gas Reduction Fund created under President Joe Biden’s Inflation Reduction Act.

New Jersey’s Solar for All award is anticipated to deliver approximately 175 megawatts of solar energy to benefit 22,000 low-income households within the first five years of funding, resulting in approximately $250 million in total energy bill savings over 30 years for residents in newly connected households. Additionally, the award is expected to result in CO2 emission reductions of 240,000 short tons and enable 90 megawatt-hours of energy storage associated with multi-family housing.

New Jersey received the highest amount awarded to states in its category.

The governor also detailed a sizable solar investment awarded last week by the New Jersey Board of Public Utilities that will create 310 megawatts of grid-scale solar and the first state-incentivized energy storage project in New Jersey. This award marks the first successful solicitation of New Jersey’s new Competitive Solar Incentive Program, and the largest solicitation award to date in any New Jersey solar program, following several record years in New Jersey for solar capacity installation.

Equally important, this latest solicitation will cut the cost for SREC IIs, or Solar Renewable Energy Certificates, by more than half, ultimately lowering the costs for ratepayers.

As part of the Murphy administration’s multipronged approach to develop reliable clean energy, the governor proposed $40 million in his Fiscal Year 2025 budget — $15 million in state funds and $25 million from the Clean Energy Fund — to provide state matching funds to leverage millions in federal grant dollars for electric grid modernization to enable clean energy interconnection and support a strong union workforce.

Also highlighted was the recently announced 225 MW of community solar and the reopening of the Community Solar Energy Program for an additional 275 MW, which is being considered by the NJBPU board Tuesday. Through the permanent Community Solar Energy Program, New Jersey expects to see higher rates of solar project completion, increased low-to-moderate-income household participation, decreased energy burdens for residents, increased municipal or public entity involvement and continued siting of solar projects primarily on the built environment and contaminated lands.

The governor also announced that the NJBPU is anticipated to launch the Dual-Use Solar Pilot Program this summer, which looks to award up to 200 MW of solar capacity combined with active agricultural or horticultural production.

“This Earth Week, and every week, the Murphy administration is hard at work moving New Jersey toward an affordable clean energy future that improves the air quality for our children while combatting our worsening climate crisis,” New Jersey Department of Environmental Protection Commissioner Shawn LaTourette said. “This and future generations will benefit from the changemaking work to expand equitable access to renewable solar energy that President Christine Guhl-Sadovy and her team at the Board of Public Utilities are advancing here in Berkeley Township and all across the Garden State.”

The governor made these announcements in Berkeley Township, Ocean County, where CS Energy’s new Eagle Solar I and II community solar projects are nearing completion. The 10 MW projects will power approximately 1,600 homes across the region while providing a 20% discount to all subscribers, including 51% low-and-moderate-income customers, a move that is expected to produce annual household savings of more than $200 and just under $7 million over the 20-year lifetime of the project for all 1,600 homes.