A multi-million dollar solar power project has been proposed for New Jersey, US. The Public Service Electric and Gas Company (PSE&G) Tuesday asked the state regulators to approve a $773-million proposal to bring the benefits of 120 megawatts of solar power directly to communities and customers throughout its service territory.
The augmenting of the solar capacity will eliminate 1.7 million tons of CO2 emissions, which is the equivalent of removing nearly 310,000 cars from the road for one year.
In a filing with the state's Board of Public Utilities, PSE&G proposed a unique and comprehensive Solar 4 All Program with one segment that includes the largest pole-attached solar installation in the country. The program will result in savings to municipal and county budgets and will utilize brownfields and other underdeveloped properties for solar generation.
PSE&G will invest in, own and operate the grid-connected solar energy systems and will collaborate with experienced solar developers, installers and manufacturers to develop projects. The initiative will create environmental benefits to New Jersey by providing carbon-free solar generation to all utility customers, the firm said in a press release.
"We designed our program to ensure that everyone has access to the benefits of solar energy," said Ralph LaRossa, president and COO of PSE&G. "The program strongly supports New Jersey's aggressive renewable energy and environmental goals and helps to strengthen the competitive solar industry in the state. By partnering with solar developers, we will bring solar projects online more quickly and cost effectively. We will also make solar energy available to every neighborhood in our service area, ensuring universal access."
LaRossa said the program will encourage growth for the solar industry by providing financing and capital to build solar capacity in these difficult economic times. The investment will help New Jersey address an expected shortfall in its current solar energy requirements. It will also generate hundreds of green jobs to help stimulate New Jersey's economy by training a pool of skilled workers who will be available for the entire solar industry.
PSE&G's Solar 4 All Program includes four segments:
Neighborhood Solar (40 megawatts) - $264 million investment
PSE&G will contract with solar developers selected from a competitive bidding process to design, manufacture and procure solar devices for nearly 200,000 utility poles and street lights in neighborhoods throughout PSE&G's service territory.
Local Government Solar (43 megawatts) - $273 million investment
Working with solar developers, PSE&G will offer every municipality and public school district in its electric service territory the opportunity to install solar systems on their property. Solar developers will install roof-mounted systems on public schools as well as on municipal and county-owned buildings. An additional incentive will be offered to municipalities in Urban Enterprise Zones by providing more installed capacity. PSE&G will own and operate the systems. Local governments will receive a credit on their utility bill equal to the amount of energy generated by the system, thereby reducing costs and helping every taxpayer in towns served by PSE&G. All schools participating in the program will be provided with educational materials about solar energy.
Centralized Solar (35 megawatts) - $221 million investment
PSE&G will contract for the design and manufacture of 25 megawatts of ground- or roof-mounted solar systems on land or buildings it owns. Systems on utility-owned properties will be installed by PSE&G's skilled workforce or contractors. In addition, the company will work with developers to install 10 megawatts of larger solar energy farms on brownfields, non-profit-owned real estate, and underdeveloped real estate to convert them to productive sites for renewable generation. These sites will use contractors for the installations.
HMFA/Affordable Housing Solar (2 megawatts) - $15 million investment
PSE&G will invest up to $15 million in roof-mounted solar systems to provide electricity at New Jersey Housing and Mortgage Finance Agency (HMFA)-financed or other affordable housing communities, resulting in savings for residents.
New Jersey currently ranks second behind California in its production of solar energy— there's nothing like a healthy $773 million competition to keep California on its toes, says Ariel Schwartz, writing on the website Clean Technica.