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image of worker installing photovoltaic solar panelAs the state prepares regulations for its new Community Solar Pilot Program, NJBIA urged the Board of Public Utilities to ensure projects are scaled to reflect solar energy demand in order to protect solar ratepayers.

Community solar installations allow individuals and groups that cannot install solar panels on their own properties to utilize shared community solar systems. NJBIA Chief Government Affairs Officer Chrissy Buteas submitted comments to BPU on Tuesday stating the association supports the goal of clean renewable energy, but is concerned that ratepayers could end up subsidizing efforts to diversify the state’s energy portfolio.

“In order to protect ratepayers, NJBIA encourages BPU to adopt several lessons learned from elsewhere in the country,” Buteas wrote. “When setting limitations on project size, BPU should attempt to understand the demand for solar energy from those that this program is intended to benefit – residential and low-income subscribers who cannot attach solar arrays to their homes for financial or other reasons – and scale restrictions accordingly.”

Buteas said NJBIA believes that if the pilot is implemented correctly to protect non-subscriber ratepayers, it could be beneficial to the business community.

“NJBIA believes there is also an opportunity for business to participate in these projects and to assist with achieving the overall objectives of the program,” Buteas said. “This participation should be available to businesses as both subscribers and as hosts, as business locations may be able to site some of these projects if they are open to the concept. Many business facilities have unused roofs and outdoor spaces which would be ideal locations for a new solar panel array,” she said.

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