The Smart Electric Power Alliance has named Public Service Electric and Gas Co. its 2017 Investor Owned Utility of the Year. In announcing the award, SEPA recognized PSE&G for its ongoing commitment to increasing the amount of solar power in New Jersey and specifically lauded the utility's work to build solar farms on landfills and brownfields in the state through its Solar 4 All® program.
Solar 4 All is PSE&G's 158 MW-dc universal solar initiative that uses traditional solar farms as well as rooftops, parking lots, utility poles and landfills/brownfields for large-scale, universal solar projects that provide solar electricity directly to the PSE&G electric grid. The New Jersey Board of Public Utilities (BPU) initially approved the program in 2009 for 80MW-dc and has subsequently extended the program twice, once in 2013 for 45MW-dc and most recently in 2016 for an additional 33MW-dc.
"PSE&G's utility-owned, grid connected Solar 4 All program created a model that can be replicated across the country and will drive further transformation across the industry," said SEPA President and CEO Julia Hamm. "Moving towards a clean energy future involves rethinking how we interact with our environment and this program has done just that."
There are currently 123MW-dc of the program's 158MW-dc total in service comprised of 174,000 pole-attached solar units and 31 centralized solar projects. Nine of the centralized projects are on landfill or brownfield sites, transforming 190 acres of mostly unused land into solar farms that provide more than 52MW-dc of universal solar electricity, which is enough to power about 8,500 homes annually.
"As a national leader in landfill and brownfield solar development, we are honored to be recognized by SEPA as their 2017 Investor Owned Utility of the Year," said Courtney McCormick, PSE&G vice president – renewables and energy solutions. "By building solar projects that are connected directly to the grid, our Solar 4 All program is ensuring that all of our electric customers truly share both the costs and the benefits of solar power. Further, by focusing much of our efforts on landfill and brownfield solar development we are aligning with New Jersey public policy, helping to save scarce open space in our state and giving new purpose to sites that would otherwise have limited opportunities for development."
PSE&G is currently selecting three or four additional landfill and brownfield sites to build an additional 33MW-dc of solar capacity between now and 2020, with work on the first project expected to begin later this year.
"It's great to see utilities embracing solar and showing that it can be deployed in creative ways and in innovative locations," said judge Tom Hunt, senior vice president at Clean Energy Collective, SEPA's 2016 Innovative Partner of the Year.
Now in their ninth year, the SEPA Power Players Awards recognize utilities, their industry partners, individuals and other stakeholders on the front lines of energy transformation in the United States. Chosen by an independent panel of seven judges with diverse experience in the electric power industry, PSE&G and winners in six other categories will be honored at an awards dinner Wednesday, July 26, 2017 during SEPA's Grid Evolution Summit: A National Town Meeting in Washington, D.C.