N.J.’s Biggest Solar Plant to Start at Rutgers in May
By JAMES M. O’NEILL, STAFF WRITER
Rutgers University will plant 7,200 solar panels in a field early next month to create New Jersey’s largest solar energy facility.
The $10 million project is designed to produce 10 percent of the annual electric needs for the university’s Livingston campus and reduce the university’s carbon dioxide emissions by more than 1,200 tons a year.
That’s the equivalent of saving 2,900 barrels of oil, or 660 tons of coal, said Antonio M. Calcado, Rutgers’ vice president for facilities and capital planning.
Rutgers President Richard L. McCormick said one of the missions of the state university is “to set a good example on issues of importance.”
The solar facility, along with other recent energy moves by Rutgers, will point the university “in the direction of sustainability,” McCormick said.
Rutgers will receive a $4.9 million rebate from the state Board of Public Utilities’ Clean Energy Program to cover nearly half the project’s cost.
The solar energy rebates, a program being phased out, are funded through a surcharge on New Jersey ratepayers’ bills.
The BPU has spent $233 million in rebates to businesses and residents since 2001 to stimulate New Jersey’s solar energy efforts.
There are now 3,320 solar installation projects in New Jersey. The bulk – 83 percent – are residential. Combined, the projects provide 58,629 kilowatts of power.
The Rutgers project is scheduled to be running by next May.
With those 3,320 solar installations, New Jersey ranks second among all states, after California, said BPU Commissioner Joseph L. Fiordaliso.
The BPU is phasing out the commercial rebate program to let the solar market grow on its own and reduce costs to ratepayers, Fiordaliso said.
Rebates for homeowners will remain for another four years.
Aside from the BPU rebate, Rutgers expects to recoup the remaining costs of the project within seven years, since the energy generated will save $200,000 to $300,000 a year.
The solar farm will be assembled on seven acres on the university’s Livingston campus in Piscataway.
The assembly will include about 7,200 solar panels, each 4 1/2 feet high by 3 1/2 feet wide, and weighing 35 pounds, set on stationary posts.
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