Lawmakers Approve Bill Allowing NJ Renters, Apartment-Dwellers to Access Solar Power

‘Low-income communities must be allowed to benefit from clean energy solutions’


Luis Torres, Earthjustice, (202) 797-4308

Late yesterday, legislators in both the New Jersey Senate and Assembly approved clean energy legislation (S.2314/A.3723) authorizing the state’s Community Solar Energy Pilot Program that would allow New Jersey residents to participate in community solar energy projects and get a credit on their utility bills. 

The renewable energy economy in New Jersey supports over 7,000 solar jobs, but over three quarters of New Jersey residents have not yet been able to access the benefits of solar because they lack suitable rooftop space or don’t have the ability to cover the upfront costs of solar. 

Sponsored by Senator Bob Smith in the Senate and John McKeon in the Assembly, the bills also include a provision supported by Earthjustice and a coalition of community solar advocates in New Jersey that would require the New Jersey Board of Public Utilities (BPU) to increase access and participation for low and moderate income families. 

The following is a statement by Luis Torres, Earthjustice senior legislative representative.

“Thanks to this important legislation, New Jersey residents who rent, live in apartments, or can’t afford the upfront cost to install solar panels will now be better able to get their power from the sun.

“In New Jersey and around the globe, low-income communities too often bear the brunt of pollution from dirty energy and contend with disproportionately high energy costs all while facing down the most serious consequences of climate change. And for too long, these same communities have not been able to access the clean energy that would reduce these burdens.

“Low-income communities must be allowed to benefit from clean energy solutions. Earthjustice has partnered with groups and communities across the country to help increase equity and access to clean energy and looks forward to working with our coalition partners to ensure that the New Jersey Board of Public Utilities heeds the call of this law by promoting robust participation from low and moderate income customers in community solar projects.”

The Paterson Park neighborhood in Baltimore, MD, where a statewide community solar pilot project, like the one approved April 12 in New Jersey, is underway.
In 2017, Maryland passed community solar legislation, similar to what was approved by lawmakers in Trenton on April 12, 2018. The Paterson Park neighborhood in Baltimore was among the communities targeted for Maryland's community solar program. (Matt Roth for Earthjustice)

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