By the Numbers: New Jersey’s Renewable Energy Program Adds Up to Serious Spending

Tom Johnson | August 12, 2013 | Energy & Environment
The state has ambitious plans for clean energy, but the numbers make clear how difficult it will be to achieve them

solar array
How is the state going to achieve its goal of having more than 20 percent of its electricity by 2020 generated by renewable sources, such as solar and wind? Its primary success story is in the solar sector, where more than 22,000 arrays have been installed, the second-highest number in the country behind only California, according to some rankings.

Here’s an update on what has happened in the solar segment since this past May. Numbers for other renewables are based on data through the end of October 2012 compiled by the state Board of Public Utilities, which oversees the Clean Energy Program.

$386 million: Cost of rebates, which are financed by gas and electric utility customers for all of the state’s renewable energy programs.

$363 million: Cost of rebates to promote solar energy, a number that has not jumped much in the past few years when the state largely cut out rebates and instead switched to a market-based system that gives owners of solar systems financial credits (also paid by ratepayers) for the electricity their arrays produce.

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$14.1 million: The amount of rebates funneled to biomass projects, which use food wastes and forest and agricultural resources to produce energy.

$5.9 million: The state has allocated this money to promote wind energy, but the cost could skyrocket if New Jersey’s plans to develop 1,100 megawatts of offshore power by 2020 are to be achieved, a target many now view as unrealistic.

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$4.7 million: What the state has paid out to promote the development of fuel-cell technologies, which use chemical reactions, typically involving hydrogen, to produce energy.

22,814: The number of solar installations in New Jersey (as of May 31, 2013).

40: The number of wind systems in the state (as of October 31, 2012).

17: The number of biomass projects funded by ratepayers (as of October 31, 2012).

8: The number of fuel-cell projects receiving state rebates (as of October 31, 2012).

1.078: The total in megawatts of electricity generated by all renewables in New Jersey, all but a fraction of which comes from solar systems.