PSE&G wins approval for $515 million, 80MW solar plan in New Jersey

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Public Service Electric and Gas Co. (PSE&G) has received approval from the New Jersey Board of Public Utilities (BPU) to invest $515 million in 80MW of solar projects, doubling the state’s photovoltaic capacity and creating green jobs. Under an agreement reached in its “Solar 4 All” filing, the utility said it expects to finish the installations by the end of 2013.

The program has two 40MW segments. The first portion consists of installing small, 200KW solar units on 200,000 utility poles in PSE&G’s service territory, which includes the state’s six largest cities and roughly 300 rural and suburban communities.

The installation will be the largest pole-attached PV system deployment in the world, according to the utility. The solar units will be tied directly into PSE&G’s electric distribution system and the power will be sold into the PJM wholesale grid.

In a three-and-half-year contract worth about $200 million with PSE&G, South Plainfield, NJ-based Petra Solar will produce 200,000 of its SunWave smart solar systems for installation on PSE&G’s utility poles. The company said that the award will lead to the creation of more than 100 jobs in installation, R&D, operations, and manufacturing of the pole-mounted, grid-connected solar PV system.

The second 40MW segment of the Solar 4 All program will focus on centralized solar, on both PSE&G and third-party sites. This segment will involve projects of at least 500KW and will consist of several subsegments, the largest of which will be the development of 25MW of solar gardens or rooftop installations at PSE&G-owned sites.

PSE&G is evaluating five specific sites for development, though site selection will depend on permitting and site suitability. The sites under consideration are on some of the utility’s property in Linden, Union County; its central gas plant in Edison, Middlesex County; the Cox’s Corner switching station in Evesham, Burlington County; and two locations in Mercer County, the Yardville Area substation in Hamilton and property adjacent to the company’s gas and appliance service building in Trenton.

PSE&G will also work with solar developers to install 10MW of PV on third-party sites and 5MW in municipalities that have New Jersey Urban Enterprise Zones within its electric service area.

PSE&G will get federal tax credits and solar renewable energy credits, which will also be used to offset the cost to customers. The utility believes this program will cost its average residential customer about 10 cents a month in the first year of the program.

“Our program will effectively double the size of New Jersey’s installed solar capacity,” said Ralph LaRossa, president/COO of PSE&G. “That is more solar capacity than currently exists in any state other than California.”

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