New Jersey already has more solar installations per square mile than any other state in America, with tens of thousands of rooftop residential installations as well as larger-scale projects that pump megawatts of clean energy into the power grid.
And the Garden State is trying to build on its 3,655 megawatts of solar power through a new program approved Wednesday by the state's Board of Public Utilities that would incentivize homeowners and large-scale developers alike. The goal: Have another 3,750 megawatts of solar power by 2026.
"It's another historic day," BPU President Joseph Fiordaliso said in a conference call with reporters after the approval.
He said the new initiative, called the Successor Solar Incentive Program (SuSI), needs all sizes of solar installations to continue to grow.
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"New Jersey is the Saudi Arabia of rooftops. We have a lot of rooftops," Fiordaliso said, referring to the state's densely-populated neighborhoods of single-family homes. "However, putting solar on my roof is not going to get us to that (3,750-megawatt) number. Do we need larger projects? Definitely. Warehouse roofs? Definitely. Brownfields installations? Definitely."
The current makeup of the 3,655 megawatts is broken down like this:
- Behind the Meter (residential/smallscale installations): 143,363 that provide 2,876 megawatts of electricity
- Grid Supply (largescale installations): 185 that provide a total of 763 megawatts
- Community Solar (installations that link to local homeowners): 7 that provide 14 megawatts
There is another 770 megawatts of solar installations currently in the state's development pipeline, according to the New Jersey Clean Energy Program. Those include 14,000 smallscale, 11 largescale and 35 Community Solar installations.
Community Solar has become more viable through state incentive programs in the last couple years.
New Jersey produces the seventh-most solar energy, by total megawatts, in the United States, trailing only California, Texas, Florida and a few southwestern states.
"In establishing the SuSI Program, we are solidifying New Jersey as a magnet for green jobs and taking yet another step toward Governor Murphy’s goal of 100 percent clean energy by 2050," Fiordaliso said. "This tremendous action has taken many perspectives into consideration and ensures the solar industry will remain a vibrant part of our clean energy innovation economy while prioritizing long-term affordability for ratepayers."