New Jersey’s largest utility, Public Service Electric and Gas Company, started a solar power installation project in the state. This was met with mixed reactions from the residents. Some say they like the initiative of the utility while other residents view the solar panels as eyesores.
Public Service Electric and Gas Company will mount 200,000 solar panels in various neighborhoods within its service area, which covers three fourths of the state of New Jersey. This is part of the $515 million investment in solar projects by the utility.
Under a state mandate, New Jersey power providers should get 23 percent of their electricity from renewable sources by the year 2021. This is the reason why Public Service Electric and Gas has embarked in this project. When the individual solar panels are laid out, it would cover 170 acres of land.
At present, New Jersey is second to California in solar power capacity. This is due to the incentives that Governor Jon S. Corzine’s administration has enacted. The state offer’s a Renewable Energy Manufacturing Incentive or NJREMI, which provides rebates to residents, local governments, businesses, and non-profit organizations that purchase and install solar panels, racking systems, and inverters in the state.
For customers to be eligible for the NJREMI, the applicant must start by applying to the SREC Registration Program or SRP. NJREMI is not available for existing solar power systems. Incentives vary according to the total amount of power generated by the system.
Back to the Public Service Electric and Gas Company’s solar panel project, some residents complain that the solar panels mounted on posts are hideous, ugly, and could decrease property values. Local officials of several towns had to temporary stop the project and seek assurance that they would not be liable in case of injuries. This would also buy them time to suggest alternative locations for the solar panels, such as the city dumps.
Ridgewood, which is an affluent village of around 24,000 residents, managed to petition for the stoppage of the solar panel installations in their area. They are concerned that the PV panels might interfere with the emergency communication boxes that are also mounted on the poles. Deputy Mayor Thomas M. Riche suggested installing the panels at the town park-and-ride lot and public schools.
Public Service Electric and Gas Company stated that only a quarter of its 800,000 poles are suitable for the solar panels, which are mounted 15 feet from the ground and requires good southern exposure. Solar power experts approve the utility’s plan of mounting the panels on poles, which is cost effective and efficient as large solar power systems.