NJ renewable energy: Extra Space solar brings clean energy to Neptune – Asbury Park Press

NETPUNE- Solar power from the Extra Space Storage Community Solar Project will bring clean energy to over 1,400 households.
Solar Landscape along with Gov. Phil Murphy’s administration announced on Monday that they have completed construction on the first of 46 community solar projects approved by the New Jersey Board of Public Utilities in Year 2 of the Community Solar Energy Pilot Program.
The state’s first completed project in year two of the program is located off Route 66 in Neptune at Extra Space Storage, one of 10 sites owned by the company that is hosting the projects with Solar Landscape.
Extra Space Storage’s project provides 6.5-megawatts of community solar power, covering 800,000-square feet of rooftop that will power over 1,400 nearby homes.
New Jersey’s Community Solar program is the first to use a competitive scoring application to ensure projects are constructed in a timely manner, and with community involvement. More over, it was the first to ensure that more than half of electricity generated would go to low and moderate income households.
Joseph Fiordaliso, President of the NJ Board of Public Utilities, said community solar is a vital part of Murphy’s clean energy initiative, which is aimed at reaching 100% clean energy by 2050.
“His vision has gotten us here,” Fiordaliso said. “Aren’t we lucky to be living in a state where we have such a vision? Where we have so many progressive ideas as far as clean energy is concerned?”
He said community solar evolved from equity.
“If we are going to mitigate the effects of climate change, everybody has to participate. Low and moderate income folks particularly in our urban areas should have the opportunity to participate in the mitigation of climate change,” Fiordaliso said.
He called it a “code red” for humanity given the United Nations reports on climate change.
“There is no other place we can live, as far as I know, this is the only piece of real estate that we have,” Fiordaliso said.
He said the community solar program has awarded 105 new projects.
“The two years of our pilot programs have been overwhelmingly successful because it has been a team effort, not only at the BPU but at the Governor’s office and other departments within state government. It has got to be all hands on deck if we are going to win this battle,” Fiordaliso said.
He added that future generations will judge how we decide to mitigate climate change.
“The State of New Jersey today we have over 157,000 solar projects, and counting. We have more solar projects per square mile than any state in the union,” Fiordaliso said.
He said New Jersey is “the Saudi Arabia of rooftops.”
“We have more rooftops than anybody else, so lets utilize them. Lets take advantage of the assets that we have because we are moving in the right direction,” Fiordaliso said.
He said he won’t be around to see the “devastating effects” if climate change is not addressed, but he has six grandchildren.
“And someday they’re going to have children, and those subsequent generations are going to look back on you and me and say what did they do?” Fiordaliso said.
Jane Cohen, Executive Director, New Jersey Governor’s Office of Climate Action and the Green Economy, worked on the community solar program for years and she couldn’t have imagined that she would be in Neptune at a press conference for year two of the program.
“It is amazing to be in that development pipeline of policy and to see it come to fruition,” Cohen said. “Everybody here who worked on this program for so long feels that pride and almost disbelief that we actually can make things happen, its really exciting.”
When the whole world is grappling with climate change, she said “New Jersey really is ground zero” in the US.
“For the projected 5 feet of sea level rise by 2100, communities like Neptune are on the frontlines. But its not just shore communities; marine flooding, increased precipitation, more intense heatwaves, wildfires, our whole state is at risk,” Cohen said.
She added that the most vulnerable communities continue to bare the brunt of the changing climate.
Nico Durant, 23, an Installer for Solar Landscape, grew up in Neptune just down Route 66 from the location of Monday’s press conference, and has worked for the company for almost a year. He told the Press that this moment means a lot to him.
“I get to help the community, I am doing something that effects a lot of peoples lives (and) the environment. I just feel like its good all around, no cons to it,” Durant said.
He said he has a sense of pride every time he drives passed Extra Space.
“I know that I am doing something that helps the community, and I know people see when I come home from work, they know what I do and I hope that makes them want to be more environmental friendly and help us all,” Durant said.
Durant was hired by Solar Landscape after becoming involved with Interfaith Neighbors.
Interfaith Neighbors is a nonprofit organization founded in 1988 to address the growing problem of homelessness. Its mission is to assist the most vulnerable with meeting life’s necessities.
Rev. Semaj Vanzant, of the Second Baptist Church in Asbury Park, is a program director for Interfaith Neighbors and said this is just one example of how partnership between local businesses and organizations can uplift a community.
“Nico is one of many who have benefited from our program, which offers an intense eight-week curriculum of professional development and soft skills training. Afterward, he went through the specific training and certification for solar installation and is now gainfully employed in a career that he loves,” Vanzant said.
Charles Daye is the metro reporter for Asbury Park and Neptune, with a focus on diversity, equity and inclusion. @CharlesDayeAPP Contact him: [email protected]


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