With enough energy capacity to power more than 15,000 homes, 45 solar array projects have been given the green light in the first round of a state pilot program that helps New Jersey move closer to Gov. Phil Murphy's goal of 100% clean energy in the future.

The New Jersey Board of Public Utilities announced the approval of 77 megawatts-worth of community solar projects, each of which give multiple homeowners or businesses the option to use the renewable energy.

Every single application approved for the first year of the Community Solar Energy Pilot Program happens to serve low- to moderate-income households, although the program allows for projects that benefit earners of any level of income.

"The projects are generally put on landfills, brownfields and rooftops," BPU President Joseph Fiordaliso told New Jersey 101.5.

A project's output is then divided among several "subscribers," including lower-income homeowners who may not have been able to take advantage of solar energy in the past.

"Generally it's going to be cheaper than the regular utility cost," Fiordaliso said.

The BPU received more than 250 applications for the first year of the pilot program. An overwhelming majority of applications were for projects where more than half of the energy capacity would benefit low- to moderate-income residents.

More than half of the applications approved are for projects in Public Service Electric & Gas territory. Projects are also slated in areas served by Atlantic City Electric and Jersey Central Power & Light.

Among the list of approved applicants are private developers, community groups and government entities.

The BPU said the pilot program is a key component of Murphy's goal of achieving 100% clean energy by 2050 and supports his vision for a "stronger and fairer" New Jersey.

The state anticipates awarding another 75 megawatts during both the second and third years of the program, providing enough juice for 45,000 homes over the three-year period.

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