New Jersey has always tried to be in the lead of the cleantech race in the United States. To reach its renewable energy goals in 2020, it has become the number two country in solar power, behind California, and has invested into the research and development of further clean technologies. Through the use of incentives, programs, and rebates, the impact of cleantech in the Garden State is clearly visible.
1) Incentives for Renewable Energy and Efficiency. To promote the use of clean technologies throughout the state of New Jersey, the government made a number of financial incentives to those who make the switch to renewable energies and energy efficiency. Incentives include the PSE&G Solar Loan Program, Wind Manufacturing Tax Credit, Property Tax Exemption for Renewable Energy Systems, PSE&G Whole House Efficiency Program, and a number of other performance based, property tax, and sales tax incentives that would make the switch less damaging to the budget.
2) Renewable Energy Manufacturing Incentive. The New Jersey Renewable Energy Manufacturing Incentive gives rebates to local governments, businesses, non-profit organizations, and residents that elect to buy as well as install inverters, solar panels, and racking systems that have been manufactured in New Jersey. Customers will receive $0.25 for every panel watt and $0.15 for every inverter and racking systems watt.
3) New Jersey #2 in Solar Power in United States. Right behind sunny California, New Jersey is number two when it comes to using solar power with more than 4000 photovoltaic installations greater than 85MW. Through the use of solar renewable energy credits, the realization that energy policies and the environment were linked, and seeing it as a new business opportunity, New Jersey created a “master plan” that included reducing overall energy use and greenhouse gas emissions by 20 percent by the year 2020, and switching to 30 percent electric power by 2020. Currently, due to the impact of solar power, it has been spreading to hospitals, schools, business sites, and residences. Furthermore, because of the popularity of PV solar systems, other alternative energy systems have looked to create their own programs, such as the Offshore Wind Development Act and Offshore Wind Renewable Energy Credit program fashioned in the same way as the solar program.
4) State of New Jersey Green Homes Office. One of the most important aspects of sustaining the impact of clean technologies in New Jersey is creating programs, providing resources, and building guidelines that can be used to continue New Jersey on its path to being more resource efficient. The State of New Jersey Green Homes Office seeks to do just that. This organization is dedicated to aiding the development of efficient and sustaining energy, by placing a high priority on providing finances for developments that will increase the ability to have safe, efficient, prosperous, healthy and livable communities in New Jersey, while keeping the environment intact. They provide technical and financial assistance to encourage, incorporate, and standardize the use of sustainable and efficient design practices.
5) New Jersey’s Solar Renewable Energy Certificates Program. Solar Renewable Energy Certificates (SRECs) are certificates that can be traded. They represent the various clean energy benefits accompanied by using a solar powered system to generate electricity. It is issued when a solar facility generates 1000kWh. In New Jersey SRECs can be sold to different electric suppliers that need to invest in the use of solar energy. Any solar system owner who has grid connected generators is able to sell and trade SRECs. These credits will reduce projects from the use of fossil fuel sources.
6) Switching Schools to Solar Power. Because of New Jersey’s large investment into using solar power, in late 2010, the New Jersey State Legislature approved A1084. This new law requires the incorporation of solar panels into the construction and design of all new public school facilities located in the state. This new mandate would not only push New Jersey closer to its 2020 goal, and not only would it utilize the state’s main source of renewable energy, but it would also increate a number of new clean energy jobs.
7) CLEANTECH NJ 2011. New Jersey is clearly cashing in on the impact clean technologies has had on the state by creating an investor-focused cleantech conference, aptly titled “The Business of Clean Technology,” that brings together all clean energy businesses throughout New Jersey, as well as government policymakers, institutional investors, environmental activities, and professional services firms to network and brainstorm on how to make New Jersey even more energy efficient. According to Keith Zakheim, Atenna Group’s president and the organizer of the conference, “The goal of this first-ever conference is to garner recognition for New Jersey’s role as a national leader and to create a platform for expanding upon our clean energy achievements.”
8 ) Solar Works NJ. The impact of solar technology cannot be expressed enough in New Jersey. Solar Works NJ continues to expand the impact by providing solar energy solutions to commercial, agricultural, and residential clients. They are dedicated to further advancing the photovoltaic industry in New Jersey in an attempt to garner the number one spot for most solar energy. They provide products at affordable prices, installation, and services. They also educate customers on the various financial incentives of switching to solar energy, including reduced electrical costs, rebates, tax credits, and SRECs which can be traded for cash.
9) Promotion of Clean Energy Use. New Jersey has numerous programs set up to increase the usage of clean energy sources in businesses and residential homes. One of the top programs is the Clean Power Choice Program. This statewide program enables individuals to actually select their renewable energy source. This program promotes the creation of a healthier environment and decreasing New Jersey’s carbon footprint by using solar, wind, hydro, and biomass power. The program is to assist New Jersey in meeting its 2020 goals by letting individuals make the switch to an electric company that uses renewable sources. This means that individuals do not need to pay the added expense of having items installed.
10) SAVEGREEN Project. The SAVEGREEN Project was created by New Jersey Natural Gas in response to their growing efforts to supply customers with necessary knowledge on different money-saving incentives when making different energy choices for businesses, homes, and communities. The SAVEGREEN Project offers energy audits that will assist individuals in determining how they can improve energy efficiency and decrease monthly energy bills. By providing the audit, individuals will be more likely to make the switch to energy efficiency and use more renewable energy sources.
Article by Shawn Lesser, president and founder of Atlanta-based Sustainable World Capital, which is focused on fund-raising for private equity cleantech/sustainable funds, as well as private cleantech companies and M&A. He is also a co- founder of the GCCA Global Cleantech Cluster Association, and can be reached at email@example.com