Plant In Full Sun: New Jersey Continues To Foster The Growth Of Solar Power

by:    Jonathan M. Prince

Although negotiating its permitting process can be challenging, New Jersey has taken the lead in encouraging and fostering renewable energy projects.  The State’s current Energy Master Plan recognizes the strategic role that energy plays in both our economy and our environment.  Amongst the plan’s goals are the maximization of energy conservation and energy efficiency by making new and existing buildings more energy efficient and the encouragement of the generation of renewable energy, so that the energy produced to bridge the gap between supply and demand is created in such a manner as to minimize greenhouse gas emissions. 

To help meet the goals of reducing energy consumption by 20 percent and increasing the amount of renewable energy to 30 percent of energy consumption by the year 2020, New Jersey has put in place several aggressive renewable energy incentives and has quickly become one of the best places in the country for solar energy companies to do business.

The State has developed numerous programs to cultivate and promote the generation and utilization of renewable energy.  New Jersey's Clean Energy Program, which is administered by the State Board of Public Utilities, offers commercial and industrial customers an array of financial incentives and design support to integrate energy efficient and renewable energy technologies into new construction, renovations, and new cooling & heating equipment installations.  Chief among these programs is the New Jersey SmartStart Buildings Program.  This Program provides design support and financial incentives for qualifying measures, for large and small projects, including new commercial and industrial projects, renovating existing space and upgrading of equipment.  Financial incentives of up to $500,000 per year are available to help reduce the capital cost of energy efficient installations and upgrades.  These incentives were developed to help program participants offset some of the added cost to purchase qualifying energy-efficient equipment, including HVAC systems, lighting and lighting controls, water heating, and high efficiency motors, all of which can provide significant long-term energy savings.

Beyond Solar: New Jersey’s Commitment To Renewable Energy

Faced with an overburdened power grid, rising energy prices, and a distressed economy, New Jersey is moving forward with an ambitious plan to implement a state-of-the-art renewable energy infrastructure. The goal is cheaper, cleaner, and more reliable energy. At the same time, the state government hopes to fuel a much-needed economic recovery by creating new jobs that will be relevant for years to come. By being proactive, New Jersey has emerged as a nationally recognized leader in solar power development. However, while solar power gets most of the media attention, its large-scale production remains costly. Because of the high costs, New Jersey is currently promoting many other forms of renewable energy. The following is an overview of the various opportunities, beyond investment in solar power, available to New Jersey’s business community.

In the article Beyond Solar: New Jersey's Committment to Renewable Energy, Lisa Murtha Bromberg and Steven P. Gouin discuss the issues sorrounding solar energy and the other forms of renewable energy available to New Jersey companies.