We've been covering the ups and downs of Duke Energy's $50 million solar rooftop project and ultimately it seems that there are just too many holes to keep it afloat. Now New Jersey's largest utility company has proposed a similar plan, except on a much larger scale.
New Jersey's PSE&G has come up with a $773 million, 120-MW project that would install solar panels on its own properties, utility poles and public schools. The project alone would put the state 7 percent closer to their goal of getting 22.5 percent of their energy from renewables by 2020.
Where it gets tricky, is how the project will be paid for. PSE&G will pay to install the panels, but it will pass the cost on to its customers through a $.10 per month charge in the first year and then $.35 per month in 2013. While the extra charge seems perfectly reasonable for adding renewable energy, this is where Duke Energy's plan was stopped by regulators. PSE&G still has to get approval from the New Jersey Board of Public Utilities before moving forward, so we'll soon see if this will be an issue.
In a lot of ways, New Jersey's plan may be more viable than Duke's North Carolina plan. PSE&G will install the panels on public places or unusable land, where Duke planned to rent private rooftops from homeowners to install panels. Also, PSE&G is splitting it's project up into four parts, depending on where the panels would be installed (one part is utility poles, another schools, etc). This way each part on its own has a better chance of making it past the drawing board than one huge, overwhelming utility project. And New Jersey has shown itself to be renewable energy-friendly, with large offshore wind farm and wave power projects in the works.
I hope that everything works out with this plan. A 120-MW solar project that meets a good chunk of a state's energy demand is exactly the type of utility initiative that should be taking place all over the country.
via Greentech Media
Image via PSE&G
written by Kerinia Cusick, March 18, 2009
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