The New Jersey Board of Public Utilities (NJBPU) is celebrating a record year in the development of New Jersey’s solar market. New Jersey homes and businesses added 455 megawatts (MW) of solar generating capacity through 18,000 new installations in 2022, exceeding the previous record of 453 MW installed in 2019.
In addition, new commercial solar generation nearly set a record, with more than 800 new commercial installations with 267 MW of aggregate capacity contributing to the record 455 MW which came on line last year. Each of these totals will continue to grow as solar developers submit evidence of their project reaching commercial operations in 2022.
Solar plays a critical role in the State’s adoption of renewable energy targeted to supply 34 percent of the goal for 100 percent clean electricity by 2050 as expressed in the 2019 Energy Master Plan. By Executive Order issued on February 15, 2023, Gov. Murphy accelerated the clean energy goal for the State to 100 percent by 2035. Investments in solar, energy efficiency, and offshore wind are expected to provide the foundation for achievement of the state’s clean energy goals.
The Community Solar Energy Pilot Program saw seven more projects come online in 2022, bringing the total installations to 21 projects, including the first project of the second Pilot Program Year. These community solar projects now provide bill credits to more than 5,500 New Jersey subscribers. Customers who previously may not have had the ability to take part in solar projects have saved more than a million dollars on energy costs to date.
The BPU anticipates another 100 community solar projects energizing in 2023, bringing over 150 MW of renewable energy to subscribers, half of which must be low- or moderate-income. Board Staff is currently accepting stakeholder input on parameters of a permanent Community Solar Energy Program.
In anticipation of the accelerated ramp up of solar, storage, and electric vehicles, the Board advanced its Grid Modernization (“GridMod”) program in 2022 by publishing its initial report on recommendations aimed at facilitating interconnection of distributed energy resource types to the distribution grid. On November 9, 2022, interconnection rule amendments were developed for stakeholder input to be implemented through the public rulemaking process. In parallel with the interconnection rule amendment process, a GridMod Forum stakeholder process is designed to provide input to the NJ Energy Master Plan update. This forum will also be utilizing an “Innovation Sandbox” rapid piloting process that will help workgroups develop data driven policy.
Also in 2022, board staff released a proposal for developing an energy storage incentive program designed to achieve the State’s 2,000 MW goal by 2030. A stakeholder process is underway with stakeholder comments being compiled to inform program design and funding decisions.