New Jersey lawmakers have made renewable energy, specifically solar energy a priority throughout the state. Because of this, NJ is a leader in giving cash incentives for homeowners and businesses who want to go solar. Lawmakers have recently updated their Renewable Portfolio Standard (RPS) to require utilities to produce 1,500 megawatts of renewable energy by 2021.
Under New Jersey's Clean Energy Program, the state offers a per-watt rebate for those installing solar photovoltaic panels. Also, the state's solar renewable energy certificate (SREC) program promises that solar panel owners receive payment compensation for electricity generated by their system. Typically, the combination of NJ incentives and the 30 % federal tax credit significantly reduces installation costs of many solar projects.
New Jersey rebate program for solar energy
Starting in September 2010, the New Jersey solar energy rebate program will give the following rebates:
- Residential solar installations: $0.75 per watt of installed solar energy (up to 7.5 kilowatts) Residential systems larger than 10 kW not eligible for the rebate.
- Public and non-profit solar installations: $0.75 per watt (up to 30 kW).
- Commercial solar installations not eligible for solar rebates.
Since 2008, New Jersey has provided a tax exemption for solar PV panels, solar water heating, and a few other types of renewable energy systems (wind technologies, for example). Any value added to your home after solar system installation is 100% tax-free. In order to claim, the system owner must apply for a certificate from their local assessor, and exemptions take effect the year after the certificate is granted. All solar energy equipment is exempted from New Jersey state sales tax, and is available to everyone, including corporate entities.
Solar renewable energy certificates (SRECs)
New Jersey has developed one of the United State's most competitive markets for trading solar renewable energy certificates (SRECs). Statewide renewable energy standards stipulate by 2021 at least 2.12% of all New Jersey electricity will come from solar resources.
Renewable energy certificates (RECs) are simple to understand. The state mandates a certain percent of electricity statewide come from renewable sources, and to meet these guidelines, utilities in New Jersey are obligated to buy a certain amount of solar renewable energy certificates (SRECs). Any resident, business, school, or government entity producing solar energy that has registered with the NJ Board of Public Utilities can sell these certificates. In other words, you can be paid for the energy produced by your photovoltaic installation.
Utilities purchase electricity generated by their residential (and commercial) customers with solar PV panels. Customers enter into SREC purchasing contracts, and are guaranteed a per-kWh payment (for their output) that is higher than the going retail rate. This provides monumental incentive.
In May 2009, NJ Board of Public Utilities provided guidance on future SACP prices (per mWh):
According to this schedule, NJ homeowners could expect to sell the electricity generated by their solar systems at a rate about $100 less per megawatt than the SACP price levels indicated. During the 2009-10 reporting year, an estimated SREC price would be about $593/mWh ($693 - $100), a rate that's well above retail price of conventionally generated electricity.
Public Service Electric and Gas (PSE&G) provides solar loans for, "behind the meter" PV systems. Loans can be used to cover 40-60% of all project costs, with the remainder financed by the customer. Customers may repay the loan in cash or by signing over Solar Renewable Energy Certificates (SRECs).
Energy efficiency rebates
Improving the efficiency of your home by replacing inefficient water heaters, or installing energy efficient lighting will boost the performance of your solar panels. There are several programs in New Jersey that provide rebates for individuals investing in energy-saving technology.