We’ve got to hand it to New Jersey–the oft-maligned Garden State is slowly but surely securing its place as a renewable energy leader. Last year the state’s board of public utilities approved a $200 million contract between Petra Solar and Public Service Electric and Gas for the installation of over 200,000 utility pole-mounted (and grid-connected) solar panels. Now Morris County is funding a mammoth 3.2 megawatt solar project with what it calls the “Morris Model”–a combination of financing from utility company Tioga Energy and up to $30 million in county-guaranteed bonds.
The multi-million-dollar project will include solar panels on top of 14 schools as well as the roof and parking lot of the 2,500-seat William G. Mennen Sports Arena, which will gather 30% of its total electricity from 1.57 megawatts-worth of solar power, according to CNet.
Morris County’s ingenious project will be a boon to the county. Here’s how it works: Tioga Energy qualifies for federal solar tax incentives (Note: municipal renewable energy projects don’t qualify directly, but Tioga does. Clever sidestepping here.). Savings from those incentives will be passed down to participants through a discounted electricity rate of 10.6 cents per kilowatt hour–compared to an average of over 15 cents from traditional energy companies–for the next 15 years. In total, the solar panels from the project will provide 17% of the electricity requirements for participants. Maybe it’s time for other states to start taking New Jersey a bit more seriously.