BPU Approves Proposed Rule to Establish Community Solar Energy Pilot Program

The New Jersey Board of Public Utilities (BPU) approved a proposed rule establishing a three-year Community Solar Energy Pilot Program. The pilot program will enable electric utility customers to remotely participate in solar energy projects while receiving a credit on their utility bills proportional to the size of their participation.

The Pilot Program will create an opportunity for access to solar for households that have been previously excluded from participating due to an abundance of shading, unsuitable roofing conditions, or those who are simply unable to afford solar panels. As such, the Pilot Program will earmark 40 percent of the overall program capacity for low- and moderate-income (LMI) households.

New Jersey Governor Phil Murphy emphasized the social justice element at the Pilot Program’s core.

“We must ensure that these policies, which are intended to improve the environment for all residents, do not keep any population in the margins,” said the Governor.

“This is why our immediate goal of addressing the needs of our population who have not had access to solar in the past, particularly New Jersey’s low- and moderate-income customers, is so important,” added BPU President Joseph L. Fiordaliso.

The proposed rule will also provide the opportunity for the development of a new market for solar generation. The Pilot Program will generate actual market information and data that will be used to inform the development of a full-scale Community Solar Energy Program within three years.

The rule sets the annual capacity limit for community solar projects approved for participation in the Pilot Program at 75 megawatts for the first year of the Pilot Program and at least 75 megawatts for the second and third years. The Board will develop and publish an application for projects wishing to participate in the Pilot Program.

The proposed rule will be published in the New Jersey Register. A 60-day comment period will follow the rule’s publication.

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