Public Service Electric and Gas Co. (PSE&G) today asked New Jersey regulators to approve a $773-million proposal to bring the benefits of 120 MW of solar power directly to communities and customers throughout its service territory.
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 use 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.
"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.
The initiative will expand New Jersey's solar infrastructure and will satisfy nearly 7 percent of the state's renewable portfolio standards requirements through 2020. The 120 MW of 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.
Each utility investment will be recovered over 15 to 20 years, but the rate impact will be offset by the value of the electricity and Solar Renewable Energy Certificates (SRECs) produced by the systems as well as federal tax credits that will flow back to utility customers. PSE&G would support a mechanism that would limit the amount of SRECs it sells via auction if the state already had enough SRECs to satisfy the solar requirement for that year.
Installation costs are expected to be $6.44 per watt of installed solar capacity. The company is proposing to recover all direct program costs, including costs related to its invested capital. The impact on a typical residential customer is forecasted to be 10 cents per month in the first full year of the program and increases up to 35 cents per month in 2013.
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.