New Jersey's 8th Legislative District

Senator Dawn Marie Addiego

Senator Dawn Addiego

Sen. Addiego & Asm. Brown: Make Public Solar Projects That Save Taxpayer Money a Priority

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Installation That Will Save Southampton Residents $1.2 Million Almost Lost on Technicality, New Bill Would Protect Future Projects

Legislation to be introduced by Senator Dawn Marie Addiego and Assemblyman Chris Brown provides priority status to solar electric projects that can potentially save taxpayer money.

Southampton School District superintendent Michael L. Harris asked the 8th District legislators for help when a technicality threatened a solar project that is expected to save property taxpayers more than $1 million.

“This is a system that will generate clean, renewable electricity for the next 15 years, and provide substantial cost saving to the district. But through no fault of the district, after expending approximately $100,000 in architectural and legal fees in planning, the project was in jeopardy,” said Senator Addiego.

Early in the planning process, the district had received preliminary approval from PSE&G, indicating there was enough capacity on the local circuit to accommodate the new ground array. An exhaustive process followed, including the development of a power purchase agreement contract and the approval of the New Jersey Historic Preservation Office. It took about five months to work out all the details, but by that time, the capacity previously available on the local circuit had been expended.

“A public project of this magnitude can have long-lasting positive impact on the community. In this case, the district expects approximately a $1.2 million savings in electrical costs. That is money that will not have to come from the pockets of local property taxpayers,” said Assemblyman Brown. “We were able to work with PSE&G and the district to find a solution, but we want to assure that ‘sorry, somebody else got here first’ will no longer be an acceptable answer for taxpayers across the state.”

The legislation elevates the priority of projects to be constructed on the property of a State entity, school district, county or municipality that will provide energy savings to a public entity over a solar electric system to be installed on private property. The public entity’s solar electric system must first be determined eligible for net metering, and receive Board of Public Utilities approval to be connected to the electric distribution system.

“Currently, the process is ‘first come first served.’ With our bill, once a project that saves taxpayer money has been identified and gains preliminary approval, we are going to reserve that space,” said Senator Addiego. “The project will not be bumped by another enterprise.”

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