Assemblyman Tim Eustace (D-Paramus) wants to jumpstart New Jersey's fading solar energy effort with new incentives for areas of the state where solar is most needed.

Solar Energy
Sean Gallup, Getty Images

Under his bill, homeowners and businesses in five areas of New Jersey where electric grid congestion is at its worst would be offered a 15 percent incentive to install a solar system, and $1.50 per watt of energy produced by that system.

"What we are trying to do is grow renewables, restore that portion of the business that basically has been shrinking in New Jersey," Eustace said, adding that New Jersey offered a 70 percent rebate at the time he put solar panels on his house. Now, people can essentially do it for free and pay for the generation of solar power.

The idea is to grow jobs, use the societal benefits charge positively, and try and get more solar panels on homes and businesses.

The societal benefits charge is an item that already shows up on electric bills.

"It would bring us back to the cutting edge that we were at one point, and we have sort of lost that by removing all of the incentives and moving the Board of Public Utilities more towards natural gas energy, as opposed to a focus on renewables," Eustace said.

He points out that New Jersey, in the not-too-distant past, was second in the country as a solar state, and we are now seventh.

"The rolling blackouts residents have experienced during some of the severe weather events in recent years would be less likely to occur when more homes take advantage of solar energy resources," he said.

According to New Jersey Clean Energy Program data, nearly 33,000 solar installations have been erected in the state.

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