New Jersey encouraging the use of green energy

July 14, 2008

 

Thanks to the State of New Jersey encouraging the use of green energy through its Clean Energy rebate program, it seems solar panels are cropping up all over the state.  From school rooftops to farmers to individual homes, using solar energy has become cost effective in the Garden State.

And now, New Jersey’s water utilities are also tapping into the power of the sun.

New Jersey American Water, the state’s largest water utility, now has the state’s largest ground-mounted solar electric system. Located at its Canal Road Water Treatment Plant in Somerset County, the 500-kilowatt ground-mounted system was designed and built by Dome-Tech Solar, a premier solar energy firm serving industrial and institutional clients in the northeast. The system includes more than 2,800 solar panels and New Jersey American Water expects it will be able to supplement 15% of the peak usage power needed to run the plant with solar energy, saving approximately $125,000 a year in reduced energy costs.  During peak production periods, the electricity produced by the solar system would be enough to meet the average electricity demand of more than 500 New Jersey homes. 

As part of its overall campaign to reduce energy expenses, now and over time, New Jersey American Water is working to keep its costs down, which may enable the company to pass those savings on to customers.  In fact, with the rebate from the New Jersey Clean Energy Program, the solar system alone will pay for itself in about seven years, possibly creating larger savings as the system continues to produce energy for many more years.

 “The state’s largest ground-mounted solar electric system by New Jersey American Water sets an excellent example of clean energy solutions that make sense for New Jersey businesses and residents,” said New Jersey Board of Public Utilities President Jeanne M. Fox.  “The solar rebate that the NJBPU is providing the company—almost 60 percent of the project’s cost—will help advance solar technologies that lower energy costs, reduce peak load and serve as an investment in the health and environment of Garden State residents for years to come.”

“New Jersey American Water’s corporate vision is driving today’s achievement—installing and activating the largest ground mounted solar energy system in New Jersey,” said Tom Kuster, president of Dome-Tech Solar. “We applaud New Jersey American Water for its long-term view and willingness to take action now to harness clean, renewable energy, reaping benefits today and well into the future for the company and its customers.”

This past December, the Atlantic County Utility Authority also took advantage of New Jersey’s commitment to green energy by dedicating the United State’s first wastewater treatment plant to be powered by a system that combines solar energy arrays with a wind farm. By capturing energy from the sun and the Atlantic Coast winds, rather than burning fossil fuels, the hybrid solar-wind power plant will produce enough energy to power the equivalent of approximately 2500 homes and displace the need for an estimated 24,000 barrels of oil per year.

The panels for the system contain photovoltaic solar cells that are made of silicon, a semi-conductor material that directly converts sunlight into electricity. Photovoltaic cells are sensitive to light and will produce an electric current when exposed to sunlight. The panels are being installed by WorldWater/Conti as part of a contract that provides the ACUA with ownership of the solar power system. The ACUA will be responsible for maintenance and operation of the alternative energy system. All electricity produced by the solar panels will be used for ACUA operations at the wastewater treatment plant; none will be sold to the power grid.

The new power plant is also one of the largest hybrid solar-wind power plants in the world. The 8 megawatt (MW) hybrid solar-wind power plant will generate an estimated 40,800,000 kilowatt hours of clean electricity annually. In addition to cost savings, there are significant environmental benefits solar and wind energy bring. The reduction in fossil fuel generated electricity needed will translate into an annual reduction of over 460,000 tons carbon dioxide emissions. Carbon dioxide is the main gas associated with global warming.

The entire solar energy system, that will cost $3.25 million, is also supported by a $1.9 million rebate from the New Jersey Board of Public Utilities Office of Clean Energy and a low-interest loan from the New Jersey Environmental Trust.

The efforts by the BPU have made New Jersey a leader in solar power generation comparable to California. The state now produces 4.5 megawatts of electricity, enough to supply 4, 500 homes, from solar power. Only three years ago, the state produced just 1 megawatt.

If New Jersey American Water and the Atlantic County Utility Authority’s plant’s are as successful as planned, they both may serve as models for the rest of the country.  

For more information about becoming part of the solar solution contact HBS Solar. Email us and ask about our free solar proforma george@hbsadvantage.com

One Response to “New Jersey encouraging the use of green energy”

  1. […] Finance Information You Can Use wrote an interesting post today onHere’s a quick excerpt   Thanks to the State of New Jersey encouraging the use of green energy through its Clean Energy rebate program, it seems solar panels are cropping up all over the state.  From school rooftops to farmers to individual homes, using solar energy has become cost effective in the Garden State. And now, New Jersey’s water utilities are also tapping into the power of the sun. New Jersey American Water, the state’s largest water utility, now has the state’s largest ground-mounted solar electric […]

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