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Frequently Asked Questions

This page contains frequently asked questions regarding the Community Solar Energy Pilot Program.

If you have a question about the Pilot Program that has not been answered below, please submit it to communitysolar@njcleanenergy.com. NJBPU staff will endeavor to respond to your inquiry via a response posted on this page.

Frequently Asked Questions are grouped by the following subject areas; you can jump to any section by clicking on one of the topics below:
Pilot Program Rules and General Updates
Filing an Application
Program Year 2 Application Form Questions and Attachments
Siting and Permitting

Application Scoring and Selection
Special Authorizations and Exceptions
Low and Moderate Income
Interconnection
Community Solar Bill Credits
Incentives: SRECs, TRECs and Successor Program
Project Milestones
Subscribers
Other

Pilot Program Rules and General Updates

Where can I find the Community Solar Energy Pilot Program rules?

The Pilot Program rules are available here.

I heard that Board has proposed rule amendments to the Community Solar Energy Pilot Program rules. Where can I find the proposed rule amendments, and when will they become effective? If approved, will they also apply to Program Year 1 projects?

On October 2, 2020, the Board approved the publication of two proposed rule amendments to the Community Solar Energy Pilot Program (Docket No. QX20090577 and QX20090594). The two rule proposals were published in the New Jersey Register on November 16, 2020. Comments on each proposed rule amendment must be submitted separately, no later than January 15, 2021. Upon the close of the public comment period on January 15, 2021, the proposed rule amendments will return to the Board for further consideration and/or adoption.

These proposed rule amendments will not become effective until approved by the Board. However, if approved, they will apply to all projects participating in the Pilot Program, including Program Year 1 projects.

The proposed rule amendments are available at the following links:  QX20090577 and QX20090594.

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Filing an Application

Where can I find the Community Solar Energy Pilot Program Application Form?

The Application Form for Program Year 2 of the Pilot Program is available to view as a sample template here.

Please note: Staff is currently developing a new online application portal, which will be available soon. At that time, Staff will provide instructions on how to submit an Application via the portal. DO NOT submit an Application using the PDF document linked above. The PDF Application Form is provided only to allow stakeholders to review the Application Form questions and requirements; it cannot be used to submit an Application. Applications must be submitted via the portal.

When is the deadline for submitting an Application Form?

As approved by the Board at its October 2, 2020 Agenda meeting (Docket No.  QO18060646 and QO20080556), the Application deadline for Program Year 2 is February 5, 2021 at 5:00 p.m. E.T.

How do I submit my application to NJBPU?

Staff is currently developing a new online application portal, which will be available soon. Applicants should submit their applications via the online portal only. Staff will provide instructions on how to submit an application once the portal is available. Please subscribe to the community solar listserv to stay informed of the latest updates.

Do I need to answer every question? Can I leave a section blank if I don’t know the answer?

Applicants are required to answer all questions unless it is explicitly marked as optional. Also, all signatures are required, unless explicitly marked as optional. An Application will be deemed administratively complete only if: 1) all questions are completed, except those explicitly marked as optional, 2) all required attachments are included, and 3) all required signatures are included. Only Applications that are administratively complete by the close of the Application Period will be considered for participation in the Community Solar Energy Pilot Program during the current Application Period. Please note that Applicants will not be notified as to whether an Application is deemed administratively complete or incomplete until all Applications are reviewed following the close of the Application Period on February 5, 2021.

Is there a fee to submit an Application?

There is no fee for submitting an Application.

I want to keep certain information on the Application private. How do I do so?

All applications will be public, unless you submit a redacted copy of your application, together with the unredacted copy, with a notarized affidavit stating the reasons why the information is confidential, at the time you submit your application. Instructions on how to submit a redacted copy of the application will be provided in the online application portal.

Can I submit more than one Application Form?

There is no limit to the number of Application Forms that can be submitted by any one Applicant. However, note that you cannot apply for more than one project per Application Form. Each proposed project requires the submission of an individual Application Form. Additionally, do not submit the same project (i.e., same Applicant name and project location) multiple times or with various sizes.

Who can submit an Application Form?

There are no restrictions as to who can submit an Application Form. For example, an Applicant may be a project developer, project owner, project operator, municipality, contractor, installer, site owner, etc. However, pursuant to N.J.A.C. 14:8-9.3, NJBPU staff will not accept applications for Electric Distribution Companies (EDCs) to develop, own, or operate community solar projects.

Can an existing solar project apply to participate in the Pilot Program?

No, an existing solar project may not apply to requalify as a community solar project. An existing solar project, as defined in N.J.A.C. 14:8-9.2, means a solar project having begun operation and/or been approved by the Board for designation as connected to the distribution system prior to February 19, 2019. Projects that received a subsection (r), subsection (s) or subsection (t) conditional certification from the Board prior to February 19, 2019 should refer to the Application Form for additional information about special circumstances.

What happens if I submit an incomplete application?

An incomplete Application will not be considered for participation in this Application Period. It may be amended and resubmitted during the next Application Period without advantage or disadvantage.

Will Applications filed with NJBPU early (i.e., prior to the February 5, 2021 deadline) be at an advantage or disadvantage compared to other Applications?

There is no advantage or disadvantage to filing an Application prior to the February 5 deadline. All Applications will be reviewed and evaluated together following the close of the Application Period. No Application or part of an Application will be reviewed prior to the close of the Application Period on February 5.

Applicants are responsible for submitting their Application(s) by the deadline. Applicants should allow for sufficient time to complete and submit the online form. Applicants should also account for the potential for high web traffic on or around February 5, 2021. NJBPU is not responsible for website delays or technical difficulties experienced by Applicants.

Can NJBPU provide advice regarding my project? Can I speak with a member of NJBPU staff regarding my project?

No. NJBPU staff cannot provide any individual guidance regarding a specific project or Application. Please submit any questions to communitysolar@njcleanenergy.com. Staff will endeavor to respond to your question via this Frequently Asked Questions page.

Are there penalties for withdrawing a project from the Pilot Program after it has been approved by the Board? Are penalties applied if the withdrawal is for cause?

There are currently no Board-imposed penalties for withdrawing a project from the Community Solar Energy Pilot Program after it has been approved by the Board.

I would like to apply for multiple community solar projects across the State. Can I submit them all in one application?

No. Do not apply for more than one project per Application Form. Please see the “Instructions for Completing the Community Solar Energy Pilot Program Application Form” section in the Application Form for further information.

Can a project located in a municipal utility (e.g., Madison, NJ) apply to participate in the Community Solar Energy Pilot Program?

No. The Pilot Program is only open to projects located in the service territory of one of the four electric distribution companies (PSE&G, JCP&L, Atlantic City Electric, or Rockland Electric). Municipal utilities may develop their own community solar programs, at their discretion.

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Program Year 2 Application Form Questions and Attachments

What is the "delineated map" as required to be submitted on page 10 of the application form?

A delineated map is a map of the proposed community solar project site, on which the Applicant has clearly indicated the boundaries of the proposed community solar array (placement of the panels).

Please clarify the required information in the Property Owner Certification Form: I, ____(name) am the ____(title) of the Property ____(name) and have been authorized to file this Applicant Certification on behalf of my organization.

Field #1 (Name): This is the Property Owner, or Property Owner's representative's name.
Field #2 (Title): This is the relationship between the individual named in Field #1 and the property (e.g., "Property Owner").
Field #3 (Name): This is an identification of the property e.g. name or address.

In the Property Owner Certification Form, the sentence “I […] have been authorized to file this Applicant Certification on behalf of my organization” seems to imply that the Property Owner is the applicant on behalf of an organization. Is this form needed if the Property Owner is not the Applicant?

Yes, this is a required form, whether or not the Property Owner is the Applicant. The Property Owner may be an organization (in which case, the signatory must be authorized to file the Certification on behalf of said organization) or an individual (in which case, the signatory is filing the Certification on their own behalf).

The Certifications on pages 25-29 of the Application Form require a notary. Does that have to be a New Jersey notary, or can it be a notary in another state?

The Certifications can be notarized by a notary in a state other than New Jersey.

Our company will be using a special-purpose vehicle (“SPV”) name for our NJ Community Solar applications. The SPV is a subsidiary owned by our company. Please verify who should be the respective Applicant, Project Owner, and Solar Developer.

Staff cannot provide guidance as to who should be indicated in the “Applicant,” “Project Owner,” and “Solar Developer” fields, as these will vary from project to project. Applicants should complete this section as best they are able.

On page 8, Section B. II. Community Solar Project Owner, can we leave the section blank and still be considered a complete Application? What do we do if we do not know who the owner entity will be at this time?

All sections and questions must be answered, except those explicitly marked as optional. You cannot leave Section B. II. Community Solar Project Owner blank. Please see the Question “Do I need to answer every question?” for more information. Please note that, pursuant to the Community Solar Energy Pilot Program rules at N.J.A.C. 14:8-9.11(b), the owner of a project can change over time; the Board must be notified in writing within 30 days of any change to the project developer, owner, or operator in case of sale, transfer, contract modification, or other material change to the parties initially listed in the community solar Application.

The PY2 Application Form contains certifications and attachments that must be notarized. Has this notary requirement been waived during the ongoing COVID-19 public health emergency? (added 12.07.20)

The notary requirement has not been waived during the ongoing public health emergency. However, the Board is able to accept remote notary approval during this time. Information on e-filing can be found here.

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Siting and Permitting

Does the Application Form require a meeting with the NJDEP Office of Permitting and Project Navigation (“OPPN”, formerly the Office of Permit Coordination and Environmental Review)?

Unlike in Program Year 1, Applicants projects are not required to meet with NJDEP’s OPPN prior to submitting an Application to the Board. Applicants may request a meeting with the OPPN to identify permits or other potential issues, but doing so is not a prerequisite in the PY2 Application process. If you meet with OPPN, please include a copy of the meeting notes or correspondence with OPPN as an attachment to your Application Form.

Exception: Applicants for floating community solar projects are required to meet with the OPPN prior to submitting an Application. Applicants are responsible for requesting a meeting sufficiently in advance of the Application deadline to ensure that the meeting is able to occur prior to the Application submission deadline.

Further information regarding the NJDEP OPPN, including contact information, is available here.

Does the Application Form require the submission of a complete OPPN Permit Readiness Checklist?

Yes. Applicants are required to submit a complete OPPN Permit Readiness Checklist as an attachment to their Application. However, Applicants are not required to submit the OPPN Permit Readiness Checklist to OPPN prior to submitting an Application (except in the case of floating community solar projects). The Evaluation Committee will submit the Checklists of shortlisted Applications directly to NJDEP prior to presenting the list of project scores to the Board.

The Permit Readiness Checklist is available here.

Where can I find out which sites are preserved, non-preserved, within a municipal boundary, etc.?

The Department of Environmental Protection’s Bureau of Energy and Sustainability has developed a mapping tool to help Applicants site community solar arrays. Please note that this tool is provided for informational purposes only, and will not be used by NJBPU in the evaluation of Applications. Applicants are responsible for ensuring that all information submitted as part of their Application, including information pertaining to the proposed project site, is accurate. Applications that contain inaccurate siting information may be deemed incomplete and eliminated from further consideration.

Can a single project span multiple, adjacent buildings/rooftops as long as it is interconnected at a single meter and does not exceed the 5 MW system size limit?

See the definition of a community solar facility at N.J.A.C. 14:8-9.2, the definition of a community solar project at N.J.A.C. 14:8-9.2, and the rules at sections N.J.A.C. 14:8-9.4(h) and N.J.A.C. 14:8-9.5(b). Specific projects will be evaluated on a case-by-case basis during the review of all applications submitted during Program Year 1, Application Period 1.

Can a developer propose multiple 5 MW systems on the same site? If yes, can they be combined into one single interconnect or do they have to be separate interconnections in order to comply with the community solar regulations?

Pursuant to N.J.A.C. 14:8-9.4(j), a developer can submit applications for multiple co-located community solar facilities. However, specific rules apply. The developer must submit a separate Application Form for each individual project. The developer must fill out Section XIII, “Special Authorizations and Exemptions” justifying why the proposed co-location of projects can be approved by the Board, consistent with the provisions at N.J.A.C. 14:8-9. Each proposed project must be separately interconnected (see the definition of a community solar facility at N.J.A.C. 14:8-9.2, the definition of a community solar project at N.J.A.C. 14:8-9.2, and sections N.J.A.C. 14:8-9.4(h) and N.J.A.C. 14:8-9.5(b)). Specific projects will be evaluated on a case-by-case basis during the review of all applications submitted during Program Year 2. Additional rules and regulations may apply. Please refer to the Pilot Program rules and Application Form for further details.

Is there a minimum size for a community solar project?

There is no minimum MW size for a community solar project. Please see the Community Solar Energy Pilot Program rules at N.J.A.C. 14:8-9 for further information.

Can I build a net-metered and a community solar project on the same rooftop if they feed into separate meters?

Yes, so long as all the program rules and regulations for both net metering and community solar projects are met.

In section IX. “Community Solar Subscriptions and Subscribers,” Question 9 (pp. 17-18) asks “The geographic restriction for distance between project and subscribers is...” It then lists choices for geographic restrictions. Does this mean it is entirely up to the Applicant to determine where the subscribers are as long as it is in the same EDC territory? Or does the Applicant need to receive approval from the EDC for said geographic restriction?

The geographic restriction, i.e. the distance between the proposed community solar facility and its subscribers, is entirely at the discretion of the Applicant, so long as it is within the same EDC service territory. The Applicant does not need to receive approval from the EDC for said geographic restriction. Note that, if the project is approved for participation in the Pilot Program, the geographic restriction selected in the Application will apply for the lifetime of the project, barring special dispensation from the Board pursuant to N.J.A.C. 14:8-9.5(a).

Is the geographic distance between the proposed community solar project and its subscribers considered in the scoring of the project?

Yes. Please see the Evaluation Criteria identified in Appendix C of the Application Form.

Does the municipality where my proposed community solar project is sited need to be a subscriber to the project?

No. It is neither required nor forbidden for the municipality in which the community solar project is located to be a subscriber to that project. Please see the Community Solar Energy Pilot Program rules at N.J.A.C. 14:8-9 for further information.

In a community solar project, who needs to own the land? Is it a municipality, or investors, or both?

There are no restrictions on who or what may own the land on which a community solar system is sited. For instance, it could be a municipality, individual, company, school, etc.

In order to demonstrate site control, will a Letter Agreement or Non-Binding Letter of Intent between the applicant and the Property Owner suffice?

Pursuant to the Application Form, Section B. VII. Community Solar Facility Siting, site control is defined as “property ownership or option to purchase, signed lease or option to lease, or signed contract for use as a community solar site or option to contract for use as a community solar site.” The site control must be specific to the project in the Application, and may not be contingent on the approval of another Application submitted in Program Year 2. No other documentation will be accepted as proof of site control.

Are ground mounted arrays located on standard commercial or industrial zoned property excluded from the Community Solar Energy Pilot Program?

Projects that are ground mounted arrays located on standard commercial or industrial zoned property are not excluded from the Community Solar Energy Pilot Program. Please see the Community Solar Energy Pilot Program rules at N.J.A.C. 14:8-9.5 for additional details regarding community solar project siting requirements.

Section XIII Special Authorizations and Exemptions, Question 1 (page 22) requires the applicant to state whether the project will be co-located with another community solar project. If the applicant checks “yes” to this question and the Board reviews the application and decides to not allow co-location, does this determination render the application disqualified and ineligible from further consideration, or will the application continue to be eligible for review and possible award?

Pursuant to the Community Solar Energy Pilot Program rules at N.J.A.C. 14:8-9.4(j), “co-location of solar facilities shall be permitted, subject to specific review and permission by the Board through the application process.”

With regard to landfill projects in community solar, how does the Board determine the size of a landfill? (added 12.07.20)

Each applicant is expected to conduct due diligence on each landfill to determine its siting characteristics. The New Jersey Department of Environmental Protection (NJDEP) maintains a list of landfills in New Jersey, available here. If you need more information, you can schedule an OPRA file review with NJDEP here. NJBPU will work closely with NJDEP in reviewing and verifying the siting characteristics for prospective community solar projects.

N.J.S.A. 48:3-87(s), which is referenced in the community solar statute, seems to block any proposed community solar facility that was located on assessed farmland at any point from 2002 through 2012 from being considered “connected to the distribution system” because the exceptions included in that subsection (s) were all time-limited and the opportunities to qualify under them have expired. Does this mean that proposed projects that are or were farmland assessed at any time within the 10-year period prior to the effective date of P.L.2012, c. 24 will be prohibited from applying under the permanent program? (added 12.07.20)

The permanent community solar program has not yet been developed and Staff cannot provide legal interpretation of statutes regarding the permanent program at this time. Please subscribe to the community solar listserv for updates on future stakeholder engagement on the development of the permanent program.

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Application Scoring and Selection

How are projects selected to participate in the Pilot Program?

As described in the Application Form approved by the Board on October 2, 2020 (Docket No.  QO18060646 and QO20080556), following the close of the Application Period on February 5, 2021, each Application will be reviewed and evaluated by a dedicated Evaluation Committee. Projects will be scored according to the criteria for evaluation presented in Appendix C of the Community Solar Energy Pilot Program Application Form. Projects must score a minimum of 50 points total in order to be considered for participation in the Community Solar Energy Pilot Program. Projects that score above 50 points will be presented to the Board for approval for participation in the Community Solar Energy Pilot Program in ranked order, starting with the highest-scoring project and proceeding to the lowest-scoring project, and until the allocated program capacity for each Electric Distribution Company is filled.

How many projects will be selected in Program Year 2?

The allocated program capacity for Program Year 2 is 150 MW. Note that individual community solar projects may not exceed 5 MW. At least 40% of program capacity (i.e., at least 60 MW) will be allocated to low- and moderate-income (LMI) projects. Furthermore, the allocated program capacity for Program Year 2 is divided among each EDC area based on their average respective percentages of in-State retail electric sales.

When will I hear if my project was selected? Is there a timeframe or deadlines for NJBPU's review of Applications?

All Applications will be reviewed and evaluated together following the close of the Application Period (February 5, 2021 at 5:00 p.m.). Following the review and evaluation process, selected projects will be approved for participation in the Pilot Program by the Board. There are no time limits on NJBPU’s review or approval of projects submitted during the Application Period.

What happens if my project is not selected for participation in the Pilot Program during this Application Period?

A project which was not selected to participate in the Pilot Program in this Application Period may be resubmitted during the next Application Period without advantage or disadvantage. The Board has not approved a queue process for projects that were not selected to participate in the Pilot Program in this Application Period.

Can I begin construction on my community solar project prior to the Board’s selection of projects for participation in the Pilot Program?

No.

In the “Other Benefits” category in the Evaluation Criteria, if there is more than one criterion that apply to a project, how will points be allocated?

Per the Evaluation Criteria presented in Appendix C of the Application Form, up to 10 points can be allocated to projects under the “Other Benefits” category. Point allocation will be determined on a case-by-case basis during the review of all applications submitted during Program Year 2.

In the “Siting” category in the Evaluation Criteria, how will points be allotted to projects located on “higher preference” and “medium preference” sites? For instance, if a project checks a box for a “higher preference,” does that project get the maximum number of points? If a project checks a box for a “medium preference,” does that project get 50% of the maximum points?

Per the Evaluation Criteria presented in Appendix C of the Application Form, up to 20 points, plus an additional 5 possible bonus points, can be allocated to projects under the “Siting” category. Point allocation will be determined on a case-by-case basis during the review of all applications submitted during Program Year 2.

Must a landfill be capped at the time of Application to be considered for a landfill project?

A landfill is not required to be capped at the time of the Application. A landfill for purposes of the Application Form is regulated by the New Jersey Department of Environmental Protection. Please refer to the NJDEP’s Guidance for siting solar on landfills, available at NJDEP Guidance for Installation of Solar Renewable Energy Systems on Landfills.

How much capacity has already been allocated in Program Year 2 of the Pilot Program? Is there a pipeline of projects already approved? When the program is fully subscribed for a Program Year, will that information be provided?

No capacity has been allocated yet to PY2 of the Pilot Program. Applications will be reviewed together, after the close of the PY2 Application Period, not on a first-come, first-served basis. Pursuant to N.J.A.C. 14:8-9.3(e), the Board will publish the list of approved community solar projects, including names, locations, and sizes, and the total capacity of approved projects for each program year.

Would an application receive fewer points, as compared to other landfill applications, if only a portion of the proposed solar facility is physically installed on top of a landfill? In other words, is there a sliding scale of points awarded based on whether 20 acres of solar is proposed on 20 acres of landfill or if 20 acres of solar is proposed on 10 acres of landfill and 10 acres of “normal” ground, all other things being equal? (added 12.07.20)

Per the Evaluation Criteria presented in Appendix C of the Application Form, up to 20 points, plus an additional 5 possible bonus points, are available under the “Siting” category. Staff cannot provide any further guidance on scoring. Point allocation in special cases will be determined on a case-by-case basis during the Program Year 2 application review process. All similarly situated applications will be treated equally and will receive the same point allocation.

Is there any other statute or regulation that the Board is relying on to block assessed farmland from getting points in the pilot years? (added 12.07.20)

Pursuant to the Pilot Program rules, projects sited on farmland are permitted to submit a community solar application. The Evaluation Criteria identified in Appendix C of the Application Form reflect the Board’s decision framework and preferences for selecting between multiple applications, and is further delineated in the Board’s Orders and regulations.   

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Special Authorizations and Exceptions

My project has received, in whole or in part, a subsection (t) conditional certification from the Board prior to February 19, 2019. Is my project still considered an “existing solar project” as defined under the Pilot Program rules?

Yes, a project having received, in whole or in part, a subsection (t) conditional certification from the Board prior to February 19, 2019 is considered an “existing solar project” as defined under the Pilot Program rules. Specifically, N.J.A.C. 14:8-9.2 defines an existing solar project, for the purposes of the Pilot Program, as “a solar project having begun operation and/or been approved by the Board for connection to the distribution system prior to February 19, 2019.” However, a special provision in the Application Form enables such projects to apply to the Pilot Program under certain strict conditions. Please review the Application Form carefully to determine if this circumstance applies to your project.

My project has received, in whole or in part, a subsection (t) conditional certification from the Board prior to February 19, 2019, and I am applying under the special provisions in Section B. XIII. Special Authorizations and Exemptions, Question 4 (page 18). Am I required to provide the affidavit described in Section B. XIII. Special Authorizations and Exemptions, Question 4 (page 22)?

If you are applying under the special provisions Section B. XIII. Special Authorizations and Exemptions, Question 4 (page 22), then you must provide the required affidavit, and comply with all other conditions applicable to your special circumstances.

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Low and Moderate Income

What counts as proof that a customer is on LIHEAP, etc.?  Is a copy of their utility bill sufficient?

Please see N.J.A.C. 14:8-9.8 for a list of qualifying criteria that may be accepted by a subscriber organization as proof of LMI status for individual subscribers. With respect specifically to N.J.A.C. 14:8-9.8(d)(2), a copy of the utility bill is sufficient to prove participation in LIHEAP, so long as the bill is recent and clearly identifies both the name of the subscriber and said subscriber’s participation in LIHEAP.

Under the program rules LMI subscribers can either be individual residential customers that meet the program’s established LMI qualifications or affordable housing providers that meet the program’s established definition. Will projects be able to substitute qualified affordable housing providers for individual LMI customers, or vice versa, provided that 51% of the project is subscribed by qualifying LMI customers?

Yes. Please see the definition of an LMI subscriber at N.J.A.C. 14:8-9.8(a), and provisions relating to the transfer of subscriptions at N.J.A.C. 14:8-9.6 and N.J.A.C. 14:8-9.7.

Would a proposed community solar project qualify as an LMI project if the median income of all the project’s subscribers is below the moderate-income limit as defined in the rules, or do individual subscribers need to be qualified as LMI subscribers?

Please see the definition of an LMI project and the definition of an LMI subscriber at N.J.A.C. 14:8-9.8.

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Interconnection

What is the interconnection process for community solar projects?

As approved by the Board at its March 29, 2019 meeting (Docket No. QO18060646), community solar projects may file an interconnection application with the relevant EDC, following the interconnection standards set forth in N.J.A.C. 14:8-9.9(a) and N.J.A.C. 14:8-5.

Projects may file an interconnection application prior to being selected by the Board at their own risk.

Are projects required to have submitted an interconnection agreement or have an executed interconnection agreement prior to applying to the Pilot Program?

No, projects are not required to have submitted an interconnection agreement or have an executed interconnection agreement prior to applying to the Pilot Program.

Where can I find the capacity hosting maps for each EDC?

Capacity hosting maps are available for Atlantic City ElectricRockland Electric CompanyJCP&L, and PSE&G.

What happens if actual interconnection upgrade costs are prohibitive and knock an approved project out?

There are currently no penalties for withdrawing a project from the Community Solar Energy Pilot Program after it has been approved by the Board for participation.

Is there any reason that projects that have already applied for interconnection through PJM would be excluded from the program? Or will projects need to reapply through the distribution utilities should they be selected in the pilot program?

Pursuant to the Board’s Order dated March 29, 2019, docket number QO18060646 pertaining to the interconnection of community solar projects in the Pilot Program, and pursuant to the provisions established at N.J.A.C. 14:8-9.9(a): “community solar projects shall comply with all current and future applicable interconnection requirements applicable to each EDC, as set forth in N.J.A.C. 14:8-5 and shall be processed by the EDCs following normal interconnection procedures.” Thus, the interconnection of community solar projects in the Pilot Program will be through the EDCs, not through PJM. Projects that are selected for participation in the Pilot Program will be required to file an interconnection application with the EDCs, irrespective of any interconnection application previously filed at the Applicant’s own risk through PJM.

As a developer, if I submit an interconnection application to the appropriate EDC for my proposed community solar project before the Year 2 Pilot Program approvals are announced, will my project receive a reserved spot in the interconnection queue?

No. Projects may submit an interconnection application at their own cost at any time. However, only projects that have been approved by the Board to participate in the Pilot Program may be assigned a place in the interconnection queue by the EDCs.

Can you confirm that projects do not have to submit interconnection applications or have an executed interconnection approval in order to submit an Application to participate in the Pilot Program?

Correct. Please see the Application Form and the Community Solar Energy Pilot Program rules at N.J.A.C. 14:8-9 for further information.

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Community Solar Bill Credits

Where can I find more information about the community solar bill credits?

More information about the community solar bill credits, including bill credit calculations and sample bills provided by the Electric Distribution Companies are available here.

Will an affordable housing provider seeking to qualify as an LMI subscriber for the purposes of the community solar project or a master meter customer applying on behalf of their tenants receive bill credits at the residential rate bill credit or at the bill credit for their non-residential rate schedule?

Pursuant to the definition of the bill credit at N.J.A.C. 14:8-9.7, the value of the bill credit will be set at the retail rate, minus non-by-passable charges, at the subscriber’s rate schedule. If the affordable housing provider is billed on a non-residential rate schedule, that rate schedule will be used to calculate the bill credits associated with their subscription.

Will a subscriber or Subscriber Organization be able to make changes to the date that a subscriber's Annualized Period ends? The ability to make at least a one-time change will enable subscribers to subscribe at any time, independent of seasonal energy bill changes.

No. Please see the definition of an annualized period at N.J.A.C. 14:8-9.7(d).

How long can community solar contracts can be written for subscribers? For instance, can we offer subscribers a 25-year Power Purchase Agreement with two five-year options to renew?

The Pilot Program rules do not require a specific nature or duration of the contract between a Community Solar Subscriber Organization and the subscribers to a project. Please see the rules at N.J.A.C. 14:8-9 and the Application Form for applicable rules and regulations. However, contract terms are considered in the evaluation of Applications.

How are non-by-passable charges defined?

The list of non-by-passable charges was defined by the Board Order issued July 10, 2019, and amended on August 7, 2019.

If a subscriber is currently buying electricity from a third party supplier, would they be eligible to participate in Community Solar? If so, would their credit value be based on the retail rate provided by their 3rd party supplier or by their local utility’s rate?

Third party supplier customers are eligible to participate in community solar. Pursuant to the Board Order issued July 10, 2019, and amended on August 7, 2019, the community solar bill credit is calculated based upon the applicable pre-Sales and Use Tax Basic Generation Service (“BGS”) charges at the time the energy output being credited to the subscriber was produced by the community solar facility.

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Incentives: SRECs, TRECs and Successor Program

Is my community solar project eligible for Transition Renewable Energy Certificates?

Community solar projects selected to participate in Program Years 1 and 2 of the Pilot Program will be eligible to apply, via a one-time election prior to the delivery of any energy from the facility, to the Transition Incentive program, subject to compliance with the rules and regulations of said incentive program. In particular, please be aware of the TI program registration deadlines: for projects selected in Program Year 1, the TI registration deadline is October 30, 2021; for projects selected in Program Year 2, the TI registration deadline will be one year from the project’s notice of conditional registration.

I have already registered with the Transition Incentive Registration Program. Can I use that TI registration for my community solar project?

No. Projects may not register a community solar project with the Transition Incentive program prior to being approved by the Board for participation in the Pilot Program. A TI registration that was filed prior to the project being approved by the Board for participation in the Pilot Program must be withdrawn and re-submitted upon the project being approved by the Board for participation in the Pilot Program.

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Project Milestones

As stated in the Application Form, page 4: “Pursuant to the rules at N.J.A.C. 14:8-9.3(c), approved projects are expected to begin construction within 6 months of their approval by the Board, and are expected to become fully operational within 12 months of their approval by the Board. Extensions may be granted by Board Staff at its discretion, based on its assessment of the specific circumstances of each project approved.” What will be the criteria extension decisions are made on? How will NJBPU treat delays due to utility distribution system upgrade construction and other PTO delays outside of the control of the developer?

As stated in the rules at N.J.A.C. 14:8-9.3(c) and in the Application Form, extensions may be granted by NJBPU staff based upon the specific circumstances of the project, so long as the project demonstrates substantial progress towards meeting the milestones. These extensions will therefore be determined on a case-by-case basis.

Please note: The Board proposed an amendment to the Pilot Program rules, which, if approved, would eliminate the deadline to begin construction, establish a requirement that approved projects provide quarterly progress updates, and extend the deadline to become fully operational from 12 to 18 months. Additionally, Staff would be able to grant one six-month extension; further extensions would need to be requested from the Board via a petition. If approved, these rule amendments will apply to all community solar projects granted conditional approval to participate in the Pilot Program. This note is for informational purposes only. Applicants must be prepared to construct their projects in accordance with the existing timelines in the current rules at N.J.A.C. 14:8-9.3(c).

How much time will be permitted for municipalities to conduct RFPs in Year 1 of the pilot program?

See the Application Form, Section A. II, “Instructions for Completing the Community Solar Energy Pilot Program Application Form,” and Section B. XIII, “Special Authorizations and Exemptions.” Specifically, it is stated that “[…] The Applicant must further commit to issuing said RFP, RFQ, or other bidding process within 90 days of the proposed project being approved by the Board for participation in the Community Solar Energy Pilot Program.” (p.6 and p.22)

When will the six-month and 12-month timelines begin for those projects selected via municipal RFP/RFQ?  How will they be treated for the purpose of extensions? Will these projects be subject to the same timeline since the RFPs/RFQs may not be issued until 90 days following Board approval?

The milestones and deadlines begin at the time of project approval by the Board. However, the issuance of an RFP/RFQ by a public entity would be taken into consideration by Staff in the examination of any request for an extension. Please see the prior answers for links to the proposed rule amendments that may lead the Board to modify these deadlines.

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Subscribers

Where can I find a list of registered community solar subscriber organizations?

A list of registered community solar subscriber organizations is available here.

If a subscriber closes their account with the utility or violates its contract with the Community Solar Facility owner, can the Facility owner drop this subscriber and replace them with another?  For example, in New York, subscribers can be changed monthly.

Please see the Community Solar Energy Pilot Program rules at N.J.A.C. 14:8-9. In particular, please see N.J.A.C. 14:8-9.7(m): “[…] Subscriber organizations shall send an updated list to the EDC once per month, following the method determined in (l) above,” and N.J.A.C. 14:8-9.10 regarding consumer protections.

For the initial subscription Product Offering Questionnaire in the Application Form (Appendix A), how will scoring work if some of our offerings have flexible terms and others don't? Do all the product offerings need to have >10% savings and flexible terms in order to receive full points?

The Evaluation Criteria that the Board will consider in evaluating Applications are detailed in Appendix C of the Application Form. Staff cannot provide any additional clarification or information regarding the scoring of Applications, beyond what is already presented in Appendix C.

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Other

How can I stay informed about the Community Solar Energy Pilot Program?

The best way to stay informed is to sign up for our listserv.

How many community solar project applications has NJBPU received so far?

NJBPU will not be publishing any information pertaining to community solar applications received while the Application Period is open.

I have a question, who should I contact?

If your question has not been answered on this FAQ page, please email communitysolar@njcleanenergy.com. You will not receive a response to your question via email. All responses are posted on this FAQ page.

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