New Jersey Community Solar Project Commences Construction at Blue Army Shrine

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The Blue Army Shrine in Franklin is the site of an upcoming New Jersey community solar project. After ample time planning and approvals, construction on the new project commenced in early March 2021. Pfister Energy is at the helm of the construction of the new facility, which is a planned 68-kilowatt DC solar project from Citrine Power. The scope of the project includes bus and car parking lots in Franklin, NJ.

The New Jersey community solar project was among the first 45 that New Jersey’s Board of Public Utilities approved under the 2019 Comunity Solar Program Pilot Year 1. Though starting construction has taken some time, representatives from Citrine Power, like Managing Partner Cela Sinay Bernie, are thrilled to see the company’s hard work and dedication to clean energy finally paying off. Bernie admitted that patience was required to wait out the long line of red tape and approvals needed to start construction. She extended a thank you to First Energy and the state’s Board of Public Utilities for making it possible to move forward with the construction.

According to Citrine Power, the Blue Army Shrine New Jersey community solar project would not be the last the company expected to undertake. By expanding its efforts to improve the availability of clean energy in New Jersey, Citrine Power is taking an active role in helping the state switch from traditional energy sources to clean, renewable energy. David Carollo of the World Apostolate of Fatima spoke about the New Jersey community solar project, noting the excitement of working with Citrine to bring the solar project online. Carollo noted that the completed canopy system will serve multiple benefits to homeowners and businesses throughout Franklin. He further explained that they could provide event space for residents under the canopy. Ultimately, the facility would be used to reduce the electricity for low- to middle-income residents, including renters.

While cost savings to residents is a big part of the New Jersey community solar project, it also exists to benefit the environment. Every individual that subscribes to a community solar program reduces the amount of carbon emissions they’re responsible for releasing into the atmosphere. Clean energy replaces fossil fuels for a more sustainable way of living. According to plans for the project, Citrine Power expects to offset just under 600 tons of carbon each year it is operational. That is the equivalent of removing just under 130 cars off the road annually.

While construction has just started on the New Jersey community solar project at the Blue Army Shrine, Citrine expects to have it online by September 2021. Residents in Warren, Hunterdon, Morris, and Sussex counties will be able to participate in the program, so long as they are part of First Energy’s services.

To help finance the construction of the project, Citrine Power turned to Sumwealth. Beyond the initial construction, Sumweath will remain on board as a long-term owner, overseeing the day-to-day operations and ensuring its investment is sound, secure, and functioning as expected. Sumwealth saw the New Jersey community solar project as an opportunity to deliver a cost-saving power option to homeowners throughout the state. According to Sumwealth’s CEO Jonathan Abe, facilities like Citrine’s provide a “strong foundation” for renewables and ensures a future that sees reduces reliance on fossil fuels. Abe emphasized that the benefits are seen at both the residential and commercial level, especially as small businesses are eligible to subscribe to the project.

A large part of any community solar program is customer management and enrollment. For that, Sumwealth contracted Neighborhood Sun, which will oversee customer relations and account management through its SunEngine platform. The proprietary solar management program allows Neighborhood Sun to see all aspects of the program while delivering a transparent and secure hub for all parties involved in development of the solar project. Gary Skulnik of Neighborhood Sun praised the program, claiming it is the “best-in-industry” for transparency. It provides asset owners the ability to follow their stream of revenue and view the long-term benefits of the community solar project.

Along with the Blue Army Shrine community solar facility, the New Jersey Board of Public Utilities has been reviewing applications for additional projects as part of its pilot program. The program, which has entered into its second year, is intended to boost the presence of community solar facilities throughout the state and make clean energy more accessible. Every application, save for one, showcased a project that assisted low- to middle-income homeowners. In total, the applications represented a capacity of more than 800-megawatts.

To be eligible for the pilot program, a project has to meet a minimum score of 50 points, which are provided via a review by the New Jersey Board of Public Utilities. As of mid-April, the board has approximately 400 applications to review as part of the second year of the program.

The first projects introduced during the first year of the Community Solar Energy Pilot Program were completed in January 2021. Located in Perth Amboy, the projects represented just under 7-megawatts of energy. The development and operations of the New Jersey community solar project in Perth Amboy created more than 60 permanent jobs.

Currently, New Jersey stands as the top state for solar capacity per square mile. It boasts more than 135,000 installations, as well as the most planned projects designed to assist underserved communities. Upon its completion, the Blue Army Shrine facility will add another to the Garden State’s growing portfolio of facilities producing clean, renewable solar energy for low- to middle-income homeowners, small businesses, and even tenants.


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