Solar, Storage

Demand for New Jersey Solar Rebates Surges

New Jersey’s Clean Energy Program has proven so popular that administrators have had to step in and modify it to deal with a surge in interest.

The New Jersey Board of Public Utilities (NJBPU) approved policy amendments for New Jersey’s Clean Energy Program that address the allocation of funds to schools and other entities for solar energy projects. “Today’s changes will enhance the fiscal integrity of New Jersey’s Clean Energy Program at a time when demand for solar rebates is at an all time high and there is a limit to the amount of funding available.” said Jeanne M. Fox, NJBPU President. “The amendments, most importantly, will ensure fairness and equity to all schools that apply for a New Jersey solar rebate.” Modifications to the program are in response to a surge in the demand by public schools for the solar energy rebates, which can save schools up to 60 percent off the cost of installation. Combined with other sources of government funding available to the schools, the cost savings can be even greater. The Program’s 2004-2005 budget to support the development of “Customer On-Site Renewable Energy” (CORE) projects would have been depleted without policy revisions. Under the revised policy, clear criteria define when and how the school project rebates apply, as well as the maximum dollar amounts for which projects may be eligible. The modified policy establishes a cap of $2.5 million dollars annually per school district, with the total amount not to exceed $5 million over a two-year period. An exemption policy also will take into account potential public benefits such as the projected energy savings of the project. The CORE program’s school rebate application now will reflect criteria that will enable the NJBPU’s Office of Clean Energy to allocate funds to the districts with the greatest need. Specifically, the new policy includes a formula that takes into account a district’s enrollment and its level of school aid provided by the State in order to determine the amount of funds it will be eligible to be awarded. For example, a district with an enrollment of 7,000 students and a state aid factor of 25 would be eligible for maximum funding level of $441,000. Comparatively, a district with an enrollment of 1,250 and the same state aid factor would be eligible for a maximum of $78,000. “In addition to funding for solar projects at schools, New Jersey’s Clean Energy Program also provides funding for residential projects, commercial and industrial projects,” President Fox added. Since its establishment in 2002, the CORE Program has provided $1.9 million in rebates to eight school projects (six solar photovoltaic and two fuel cell systems). “The Clean Energy Program is a vital mechanism for promoting viable alternative energy supplies and energy conservation,” said Acting Governor Richard J. Codey.