FORT LEE, NJ- “Here Comes the Sun” isn’t just an old song, it’sa fast-growing industry in New Jersey, as commercial solarinstallations have expanded by nearly 400% since 2008, says onemanufacturer. And that growth should continue thanks to theextension of the Renewable Energy Grant program by the U.S.Congress.

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Tax legislation passed in December also extended the grant,which provides 30% cash rebates for qualified projects in lieu ofcertain tax credits. Created as part of the 2009 stimulus packageand known as the Section 1603 Grant, the program was to expire atthe end of 2010, but will now continue through the end of 2011.

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“The Renewable Energy Grant has contributed to significantgrowth of this industry in New Jersey,” says Adam Putter, presidentof Fort Lee, NJ-based Solar Roof Development, in a release. SolarRoof Development is a consulting firm that advises on incentivesand installers, largely for commercial properties. “With the latestaction, anyone who purchases a solar installation will continue toreceive a check from the US government amounting to 30% of thesystem’s cost.”

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The legislation also makes projects put into service betweenSept. 8, 2010 and Dec. 31, 2011, eligible for 100% accelerateddepreciation of the system, minus half the cash grant or investmentin its first year. The state also provides incentives, includingrebates based on energy efficiency measures and solar renewableenergy certificates.

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The result is that New Jersey is second only to Californianationwide for grant-generated solar projects, Putter says. Thestate received 164 grants totaling $241 million in investments and$72 million in funding in the past year.

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Among the newest solar panel enthusiasts in the state aregovernment offices. Union County will install approximately 3.4megawatts of solar panels on 16 entities, including communitycenters, fire houses, libraries and other facilities in 2011.Morris County already has installed 3.22 megawatts of solar poweron municipal buildings.

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The industrial market in the state, the third largest in thenation, provides a major opportunity, according to Putter.“Industrial solar applications are particularly effective becausethese buildings have substantial roof space and require a lot ofelectricity," Puttersaid.



 “Future energyprices are expected to rise dramatically. The incentives that areavailable today, combined with the vastly improved technology, makethe opportunity to ‘go solar’ better right now than it will everbe.”

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As a case in point, private equity firm KTR Capital Partners onWednesday announced that it had selected Solar Power Inc., based inRoseville, CA, to design, engineer, and construct a five-megawattrooftop system for installation on the 645,000-square-foot WhiteRose Inc. distribution warehouse in Carteret, NJ. “This is asignificant project for us,” says Steve Kircher, chairman and CEOof Solar Power, in a release. “The White Rose installation will beone of the largest systems of its type in the nation.”

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