NJ surpasses major solar milestones in 2021
The COVID-19 pandemic did not slow New Jersey's march to reach Gov. Phil Murphy's goal of 100% clean energy by 2050.
New Jersey now has the most solar installations per square mile than any state after adding 14,000 installations last year for a total of more than 150,000.
New Jersey Board of Public Utilities President Joseph Fiordaliso said the regulator will expand its continuing solar initiative to allow all segments of the community to participate in the clean energy revolution.
"When I say that, I'm talking about underserved communities, in particular. Environmental justice is extremely important to us and the governor," Fiordaliso said.
The goal is to make sure every New Jerseyan has the opportunity to participate and contribute to a cleaner environment and to help mitigate the effects of climate change, he added.
The mitigation of climate change is the obligation of everyone, he said.
"We all have to do our part to try to slow this down, otherwise future generations are going to be suffering, and they will judge us on what we do and how we do it. This is our moment to step up to the plate and do something," Fiordaliso said.
A few programs are planned for the spring from the NJBPU.
Competitive Solar Incentive Program
First solicitation is planned to occur before the end of the year.
Solar Siting Criteria for CSI Program
The siting program benefits the agriculture arena. Farmland can be used to cite large solar arrays. The program assists the farmer and helps them maintain their farm because there is a financial benefit to it. They're doing a lot of research with growing crops underneath the solar panels themselves, Fiordaliso said.
There is limited land in New Jersey because it is the most populated state in the nation. So Fiordaliso said the state needs to come up with ingenious ways to continue to increase the volume of solar because it's one of the cornerstones of the program to achieve 100 percent clean energy by 2050.
Permanent Community Solar Program
A planned permanent program was established this year.
Dual-use Solar Pilot Program
First solicitation is anticipated to occur before the end of the year.
Fiordaliso said the importance of solar with all its renewable energy is two-fold. One is the mitigation of climate change; reducing our reliance on fossil fuels, and two, the economic enhancements that come from renewable energy.
For example, the solar industry today employs about 7,000 people, a sizable number of folks, he said. The cost of solar continues to decrease.
"I can build a solar array today for half the price of what it cost back in 2007. So the cost of renewable energy comes down, the economic benefits increase, jobs increase, and we mitigate the effects of climate change. I think that's a win-win situation," Fiordaliso said.
More information about New Jersey's solar programs can be found here.
Jen Ursillo is a reporter and anchor for New Jersey 101.5. You can reach her at firstname.lastname@example.org
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