New Jersey BPU Issues Draft Community Solar Applications for Public Comment

On November 28, 2018 the New Jersey Board of Public Utilities (“BPU”) published the following draft applications (collectively the “Applications”) for public comment:

A. Community Solar Energy Pilot Program Application Form.
B. Community Solar Subscriber Organization Registration Form.
C. Community Solar Subscriber Disclosure Form.

It is important to note the following regarding the Applications:

  1. Original signatures are required on all forms, and the certifications must be notarized. Nine complete applications must be submitted to the BPU by hand or mail no later than 5pm on the last day of the application period. Applications submitted by facsimile or electronic mail will not be accepted. The application period has not yet been determined.
  2. Applicants must have met, or be scheduled to meet, with the New Jersey Department of Environmental Protection’s (“NJDEP”) Office of Permit Coordination and Environmental Review (“PCER”) to determine what permits may be required and to identify other potential issues. Applicants are expected to have completed the NJDEP Permit Readiness Checklist and submitted such checklist to NJDEP PCER prior to submitting the application.
  3. Satisfaction of all outstanding NJDEP regulatory compliance obligations is required. The applicant must identify any outstanding compliance and enforcement issues associated with the proposed project and resolve them accordingly before submitting the Post Construction NJDEP Compliance Form.
  4. An applicant may be a project developer, project owner, project operator, property owner, contractor, installer, land speculator or agent thereof.
  5. Only applications that are substantively complete by the close of the application period will be considered.
  6. The projects will be scored, with the highest scored projects being approved until the 75-megawatt cap is reached. The projects will be scored as follows:
    1. Siting – 20 points. Higher preference for landfills, brownfields, areas of historic fill, rooftops, parking lots and parking decks. Medium preference will be given to canopies over impervious surface (i.e. walkway) and areas in need of redevelopment. Preserved land, wetlands, forested area and farmland is not preferred. There will be bonus points awarded for landscaping, land enhancement, pollination support, storm water management and decommissioning plans.
    2. Subscribers and Environmental Justice – 20 points. Higher preference for low and moderate income (“LMI”) projects with real benefits to the LMI subscribers, if more than 50% of the capacity is assigned to residential subscribers, and projects in environmentally disadvantaged communities.
    3. Product Offering – 20 points. Higher preference for guaranteed savings of greater than 10% and flexible terms. Medium preference for guaranteed savings greater than 5%. Projects with no guaranteed savings are not preferred.
    4. Cost of Installation – 10 points. Higher preference for lower cost.
    5. Community and Environmental Justice – 10 points. Higher preference for partnerships with municipality, local community organizations and affordable housing providers, as well as providing local jobs and training. Medium preference for a letter of support from the municipality, if the project owner is a government and/or public or quasi-public entity, or if the owner is an affordable housing developer.
    6. Other Benefits – 10 points. Project paired with storage, a micro-grid, energy audit, or energy efficiency measures.
    7. Geographic Limit – 5 points. Higher preference for subscriber limitations to the municipality in which the project is located or adjacent municipalities. Medium preference for projects with subscriber limitations to the county in which the project is located or the adjacent county.
    8. Project Maturity – 5 points. Higher preference for projects with the Electric Distribution Company feasibility study (the “Feasibility Study”) and permits received, and site control. Medium preference for projects with the Feasibility Study and permits applied for, and conditional site control.
  7. The applicant must be prepared to present their project in person to BPU staff.
  8. The BPU may attach specific conditions which must be fulfilled in order to obtain final approval.
  9. Approved projects are expected to begin construction within 6 months of their approval by the BPU and are expected to become fully operational within 12 months of their approval. Extensions may be granted by the BPU in its discretion.
  10. Information requested in the application includes:
    1. Estimated number of subscribers and breakdown between residential, industrial and commercial subscribers.
    2. Whether the project is using an anchor subscriber.
    3. Cost estimates, including the cost of customer acquisition, annual customer churn rate, annual operating expenses and the Levelized Cost of Energy (the net present value of the cost of generating a kWh over the life of the project). Substantiating evidence must be attached in the form of charts and/or spreadsheet models.
  11.  All subscriber organizations (organizations which work to acquire original subscribers, replacement subscribers and otherwise manages subscribers) must be registered with the BPU at least 30 days prior to fist conducting business operations in New Jersey.
  12. All subscribers to a community solar project must execute the required disclosure form.

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