Photovoltaic Solar Panels convert sunlight into electricity on the Madox Apartments in Jersey City.
New Jersey is the nation’s fifth-largest solar state, with over 382,000 homes powered by solar (according to the Solar Energy Industries Association). The renewable energy economy in New Jersey supports over 7,100 solar jobs, in over 570 companies.
According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the cost of gasoline, natural gas, and the cost of a kilowatt hour have all increased in New Jersey from May 2017 to May 2018. But the price of solar in New Jersey has decreased by over 50% in the last 5 years. Companies like Energy Sage offer information about solar and compare installer quotes for you.
New Jersey has a renewable portfolio standard, or RPS, which requires utilities to offer a certain percentage of their electricity generated by renewable resources rather than fossil fuels. The State legislature passed a bill in April 2018 (A3723/S2314) to increase New Jersey’s renewable portfolio standard by 35% by 2025 and 50% by 2030, with an increased solar requirement of 5.1% (instead of 4.1%) by 2021. Despite solar’s decrease in price over the years, over three quarters of New Jersey residents have not yet been able to access solar but this may begin to change. This new legislation also lays the groundwork for a statewide community solar program, to create a next generation of solar incentives, and provides for a Community Solar Energy Pilot Program to be established by the end of 2018.
This state legislation is particularly important for Jersey City, since 70.5% of the population is made up of renters, rather than single family homeowners. The new legislation gives special consideration to low and middle income residents, increasing access to solar for more of our residents.
Community solar is when residents invest in a solar electricity project together, where participants typically own or lease a portion of a solar photovoltaic system. This allows residents, both homeowners and renters, to take advantage of locally-generated solar energy without having to bear all the upfront costs of installing a solar system by themselves. Some single family homes do not get enough sun, and other families are simply priced out of solar — so community solar increases access to solar so that more families can reduce their electricity bills.
According to a recent Princeton University report, Solar Garden Community Solar Recommendations, these small- to medium-scale systems “can enhance electric grid resilience, support economic growth, reduce transmission and distribution costs, lower peak rate spikes, increase low-income uptake of solar, enhance environmental justice, and improve human and environmental health.”
There are different types of community solar:
A “solar cooperative” is different than “community solar,” although it may also be referred to as community solar. A solar cooperative is a group of homeowners in a neighborhood or city who purchase solar for their own homes at the same time, and negotiate a better project cost for the panels and installation.
PV Energy Sales Tax Exemption — New Jersey has a sales tax exemption, which makes your solar equipment cost less.
Federal Tax Credit — Qualifying solar electric and solar hot water systems installed by December of 2019 can receive a 30% personal tax credit.
PSEG Solar Financing Option — PSEG currently offers a 10-year loan option for photovoltaic projects eligible for net metering and SRECs.
Net Metering — Allows owners of small-scale solar energy systems to sell excess energy back to the grid at the applicable retail rate.
Aggregate Net Metering — Allows non-profits, multi-unit residences, school districts, and local governments to sell excess energy back to the grid from qualified solar installations.
Solar Renewable Energy Certificates (SRECs) — New Jersey includes a carve-out in its Renewable Portfolio Standard specifically for solar generation, and awards Solar Renewable Energy Credits (SRECs) for power produced by solar energy systems. These SRECs can then be sold on a market to utilities to help them meet the New Jersey Renewable Portfolio Standard (RPS). SREC prices have fluctuated since the SREC market was established in 2009.
NJ Renewable Energy Incentive Program — In order to participate, residents must complete the information in the SREC Registration Program (SRP) on the NJ Clean Energy website.