New Jersey is about to get a major expansion of solar – mostly sited on landfills and brownfields – because the state’s Board of Public Utilities approved the utility’s extension of its Solar 4 All initiative.
Public Service Gas & Electric Co. (PSE&G) will spend $440 million over three years – about half of what it asked for – and 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.
Utility customers will pay for the expansion, adding about $4.50 a year to bills by 2018.
To date, 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.
Since New Jersey is small in size and densely populated, most of its solar is highly distributed on rooftops, parking canopies, landfills and brownfields. There are about 21000 solar projects in the state – 15,500 on homes, 3000 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 5700 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% of electricity by 2014 (it’s less than 0.5% now) and 4.1% by 2028. 22.5% must come from renewable energy by 2021.
Besides solar, New Jersey will benefit from offshore wind. The first leg of the offshore transmission line, the Atlantic Wind Connection, will run along the length of the state.