By: Michael J. Lipari, Esq.

Renewable energy projects continue their emergence throughout New Jersey as the beneficial aspects of these projects are being realized by property owners. New Jersey is currently ranked second in the United States for solar installations largely in part to the emergence of solar fields being constructed on farms and otherwise vacant land. Recent state and federal legislative initiatives have made these types of projects economically feasible.

This week, Princeton University announced that it will be developing a solar collector field on 27-acres of land in West Windsor, New Jersey. The project is expected to be one of the largest at any U.S. college or university. The photovoltaic (“PV”) system will consist of 16,500 PV panels and should generate 8 million kilowatt-hours per year. This installment will be enough energy to meet 5.5 percent of the total annual electric needs for the University.

The system, which will be owned by Key Equipment Finance, will be partially funded with the use of grants available through the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act. Sun Power Corp. is responsible for the design and construction of the project. Princeton University will host the system and finance the lease from revenue realized through New Jersey’s Solar Renewable Energy Certificate program (“SREC”).

New Jersey’s SREC program awards managers of solar energy installations with one credit per 1,000 kilowatt hours of solar electricity generated. Princeton University will sell these credits to utility or energy companies to help those companies offset statutory requirements for renewable energy production. At the expiration of the lease term, the University plans to retire the credits and prevent the emission of approximately 3,090 metric tons of carbon dioxide per year.