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NEWARK, NJ-Public Service Electric & Gas yesterday received BPU approval to launch a solar pilot program to fund the installation of solar systems in businesses, government facilities and homes within the utility’s service area. Altogether, the state’s largest utility has set aside $105 million for the program.

“Now that the Board has approved our proposal, we will move as quickly as possible to begin offering solar loans to developers and customers,” says Ralph LaRossa, president and COO of PSE&G. “We welcome this opportunity to play a strong role in meeting the state’s renewable and conservation goals, and reduce carbon emissions.”

As put forth by the state’s Energy Master Plan, and by BPU’s renewable portfolio standard, the goal is to meet 20% of New Jersey’s energy needs with renewable energy by 2020. PSE&G applied to the BPU for approval of the new plan a year ago.

Under the approved plan, applications for funding will be available for the next two years and accepted on a first-come, first-served basis until 30 MW of projects have been developed. If the program proves successful, PSE&G officials say they’re ready to invest upwards of $1 billion in solar programs over the long term.

The way the pilot program works is that PSE&G will provide loans to cover from 40% to 60% of the installation’s cost, with the property owner covering the rest. The loans would be repaid through credits they would receive for the solar power their systems generate. And because the interest on the loans itself won’t completely cover the costs of the program, PSE&G will add a small surcharge to every customer’s bill to make up the difference.

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