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Area towns support community solar projects

Gov. Phil Murphy signed the Clean Energy Act of 2018, directing the New Jersey Board of Public Utilities (BPU) to establish a community solar program.

This allows commercial real estate owners to rent their roof space to house solar facilities that power their community.

The state is currently in the second year of a three-year pilot program as it moves toward its goal of 100% renewable energy by 2050.

Middlesex County towns have been showing support for community solar projects.

Murphy visited the 4PX Express/Duke Realty Solar Warehouse in Perth Amboy on Jan. 28 in a show of commitment to transforming to a clean economy and investing in green, good paying jobs in the state.

“New Jersey is on the front line of the climate crisis and I’m proud our state is leading the way on our path toward a clean, low-carbon future,” Congressman Frank Pallone (D-NJ) said in a prepared statement.

“These investments help ensure our state is ready to tackle the challenges of the climate crisis head on. Climate change is an opportunity to empower our workers with new, good paying jobs and to prioritize the needs and the voices of our environmental justice communities.

“Today it’s clear that when we invest in green technology, we don’t have to choose between fighting climate change and economic growth. I would like to thank Gov. Murphy, Mayor [Helmin] Caba, and Board of Public Utilities President [Joseph] Fiordaliso for helping get this project across the finish line,” Pallone said.

As chairman of the U.S. House of Representatives’ Energy and Commerce Committee, Pallone spearheaded passage of provisions in the omnibus spending bill last December that support the transition to a low-carbon economy by investing in clean energy, distributed energy resources, energy storage systems, and microgrids – all of which are crucial to reducing greenhouse gas emissions, according to the statement.

The bill ensures employees are paid good, prevailing wages for the first time in five programs: solar, wind, water power, grid modernization, and carbon removal research and development.

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In North Brunswick, municipal officials discussed endorsing a resolution for Solar Landscape on Jan. 25 to enable the third party company to install three solar locations in town that would be added to the energy grid.

According to Michael Hritz, director of Community Development, residents who otherwise are not able to install solar panels on their roofs, based on the size of the roof, the age of the roof or the landscape, could sign up to receive a portion of energy from the grid, and then would save 20% off the base energy portion from PSE&G (not the delivery fee).

Fifty-one percent of this program must be sold to low-income and moderate-income households, according to the criteria of the program. Hritz said the senior housing building at 740 Hermann Road and the Crescent apartment complex would qualify.

Hritz said if energy costs $30 to $40 per month, participants would save $5 to $10 a month.

“Ultimately, it could offer a modest discount to residents who choose to participate,” Hritz said.

The proposed locations are 1980 Route 1, Building 3, enough to power 207 homes; 1112 Corporate Park Road, enough to power 114 homes; and 1101 Corporate Park Road, enough to power 188 homes, based on an estimated 7,500 kWh annual usage per subscriber home.

The North Brunswick project alone could prevent more than 2,700 metric tons of carbon dioxide from entering the local atmosphere each year.

North Brunswick would receive 25 Sustainable Jersey points for municipal support.

If the North Brunswick Township Council approves the resolution, Solar Landscape can then apply to the New Jersey Board of Public Utilities. If approved, the North Brunswick solar projects will be among the largest in the state.

Solar Landscape will design, construct, own, operate and maintain the systems for the 20-year term of the project.

There is no contract involved, Hritz said, and this is not a community energy aggregation plan. He said residents can sign up and cancel at any time.

Other community solar projects completed by Solar Landscape in 2020 include Edison, North Bergen, Pennsauken, Teterboro, Perth Amboy and Wood Ridge.

For more information, visit http://gosolarlandscape.com

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South Brunswick has postponed its vote on its own community solar projects.

 

 

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