New Jersey’s Community Solar Pilot Could Set an Example for Accessibility — If It Succeeds

In January, New Jersey unveiled its Energy Master Plan, a strategy document meant to put teeth behind Governor Phil Murphy’s goal of 100 percent clean energy by 2050. The release of the 148-page plan followed numerous smaller efforts in the state to encourage renewables, including the establishment of a community solar program designed to pull more residents into the clean-energy future Murphy has pitched since claiming the governor’s office in 2018. Though the overall capacity of New Jersey’s community solar program — a minimum of 225 megawatts spread over three years — is relatively small, it carries outsize importance for Murphy’s clean-energy agenda. The state’s master plan includes seven main goals, including advancing community energy planning and making solar more accessible through programs like community solar. To that end, Murphy and state regulators have made environmental justice a “cornerstone” of New Jersey’s community solar program. In choosing winning projects, the state’s board of public utilities has weighted the inclusion of low- and moderate-income customers above all other factors. The state doubled down on that mission when it selected its first 45 projects from 252 applications; though New Jersey required that 40 percent of projects set aside the majority of their subscriptions for low- to moderate-income (LMI) customers, 100 percent of the projects selected will meet that criterion. Now comes the work of building them — and actually signing up consumers.

Have a question?
Ask away!