First-of-its-kind project offers low-income households access to clean energy and bill savings in historic Pilot Program
On May 13, 2021
Gov. Phil Murphy’s Office of Climate Action and the Green Economy and the New Jersey Board of Public Utilities celebrated the launch of the first community solar project to be constructed on a closed landfill as part of the BPU’s historic Community Solar Energy Pilot Program. Community Solar supports Governor Murphy’s commitment to achieve 100% clean energy by 2050 and ensures access to clean energy for communities previously unable to utilize solar energy. The 3.1 MW solar installation, constructed by New Jersey developer Soltage at 900 Coopertown Road in Delanco Township, will power up to 700 households with clean energy and dedicate 55% of its output to low- and moderate-income (LMI) subscribers.
“We are very proud to see successful community solar development, especially projects sited on former landfills,” said BPU President Joseph L. Fiordaliso. “Since these contaminated sites are often not suitable for other types of redevelopment, community solar is one of the best ways to utilize them in a way that promotes equity by making the benefits of clean energy more accessible to New Jersey residents.”
“Equal access to the Murphy administration’s clean energy agenda is a key part of building a sustainable clean energy future,” said Jane Cohen, director, Office of Climate Action and the Green Economy. “The community solar program puts the focus on equity, environmental justice, and workforce development, and brings us one step closer to creating a stronger and fairer New Jersey for all.”
“I have been an outspoken advocate, not just for the need for clean energy, but more importantly, clean energy equity,” said Senator Troy Singleton, who represents Delanco as part of the 7th Legislative District and is the prime sponsor of Senate Bill 2484, the Clean Energy Equity Act. “I appreciate the Administration’s commitment to making sure that as New Jersey works to establish a path to economic recovery, we are working simultaneously towards a future where energy is affordable, equitable, accessible and sustainable – for all New Jerseyans, regardless of their income. This project in particular is a perfect example of how community solar can bring renewed purpose to brownfields, while also giving hundreds of low income families in the region access to clean, renewable energy.”
The union-built project received significant community support in its application for Year 1 of the Pilot Program, and identified guaranteed savings in the form of fixed bill credits as an economic benefit to subscribers. Soltage also partnered with the Ladies in Transit Holistic Community Development Corporation to provide a job training workshop for local residents to learn about career paths in the solar industry.
“It’s been a pleasure to be involved with both Soltage and Pro-Tech Energy during the construction of the Tri-County Solar Farm,” said Mark Miller, operations manager of Southern New Jersey at Huen Electric and member of International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers Local 351. “The State’s renewable energy program has been supportive for not only union electricians but also our union civil operators. We look forward to continuing being an important part of the State’s renewable energy goals.”
“Soltage is excited to bring the first landfill community solar project to our home state of New Jersey,” said Soltage CEO and Co-Founder Jesse Grossman. “We are especially proud of the real community engagement that the Tri-County Solar Farm has forged with our many community partners, and the project’s local benefits including allocation of the majority of its electricity to low- and moderate-income residents at guaranteed savings.”
The Community Solar Energy Pilot Program is administered by New Jersey’s Clean Energy Program™ and provides access to solar energy by virtually connecting customers to a solar installation within their electric utility company’s service territory. This allows residential and commercial customers – who previously lacked access due to cost, shaded property, or lack of roof control – to reap the benefits of a more equitable solar market without having to purchase, install, or maintain solar panels.
BPU is in the process of reviewing 410 applications submitted for Year 2 of the Pilot Program and expects to award capacity later this year. Year 2 has allocated 150 MW of award capacity, including a 40% carve-out for projects serving LMI households. For more information about New Jersey’s Community Solar Energy Pilot Program, click here.
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