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Monday, November 13, 2006

New Jersey Home To Large Solar Power Installation

More than 60 leading solar-power market participants and community representatives gathered at Monmouth University in Long Branch, New Jersey, to celebrate the installation of one of the largest solar systems on the East Coast and to discuss the future of New Jersey's solar market.

The Monmouth University 454 kw solar installation isnow one of over 1840 solar installations across the Garden State. Numbers show that New Jersey has more than doubled its solar capacity in the first nine months of2006. Therefore, since 2006, New Jersey now has more than 1,840 solar electric systems across the state with over 26 MW of installed solar capacity.

The rapid growth in solar installations across the Garden State is due to New Jersey's Solar Financing Model which effectively helps drive investment in solar technologies by combining state financial incentiveswith net metering benefits, electric cost savings, federal tax credits andclean energy credits.

"The rate at which this market is growing is absolutely incredible andwe are consistently impressed with the efforts of the solar industry andcommunity leaders like Monmouth University who have been instrumental ingrowing this market," says Jeanne Fox, New Jersey Board of Public Utilities president. "However, NewJersey's solar financing model is integral to our shared success and willbe even more critical to our ability to continue this level of growth andour position as a national solar market leader."

Based on its financing model, New Jersey has reduced the payback periodfor solar installation down to ten years or less. Both business andresidential customers have taken advantage of state's Customer Onsite Renewable Energy (CORE) rebates, which reduce the upfront costs for the installation of renewable energy technologies including solar, wind and biomass by as much as 50 percent.

During the first nine months in 2006,New Jersey reports over $46 million dollars in rebates to NJ ratepayers forthe installation of over 10 MW of solar photovoltaics. An additional $56 million in CORE rebate commitments were made available by the Board in September bringing the final 2006 budget for the rebate program to $147 million. The Office of Clean Energy estimates that an additional 200 installations representing an additional 5 MW of solar capacity will be completed within the fourth quarter. In comparison, New Jersey installed atotal of 9.9 MW of solar capacity from 2001 through 2005, representing atotal of $43.9 million in rebates.

"Despite this success, rebates alone are not sufficient to drive growthand investment," says Michael Winka, director of the Clean Energy Program."Only when combined with the state's Solar Renewable Energy Certificate(SREC) Program does the payback period drop to within 10 years or less. SRECs are an integral component of New Jersey's Solar Financing Model andits strategy for transforming clean energy markets in the state."

SRECs provide long term financing for solar systems by compensating thesolar generators for each MWh of clean, solar electricity produced. Preliminary reports indicate that more than 1300 eligible solar generatorsparticipated in the state's Solar Renewable Energy Certificate (SREC)Program during the most recent trading period and that over 10,700 Solar Renewable Energy Certificates (SRECs) were purchased and retired by theregulated utilities who are required to purchase SRECs to comply with the state's Renewable Portfolio Standards.


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