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Community solar projects seen as key to NJ’s clean-energy targets

Advocates say more focus needed on communities of color, low income

To continue to promote clean energy in New Jersey, elected officials marked Earth Day by touring a community solar project in Avenel. New Jersey’s rooftops are increasingly becoming a source of energy, with a patchwork of solar panels, thanks to government programs like Community Solar.

“Solar plays a very critical role in New Jersey’s energy ecosystem, especially as we strive towards our power-sector goal of 100 percent clean energy by 2035, which the governor announced we’re on track to hit,” said Preethy Thangaraj, policy adviser in the governor’s office.

“The momentum is there, but there’s a lot more to be desired in order to make sure that we reach that target by 2035,” said Kartik Amarnath of Vote Solar, a nonprofit. “We need projects that meaningfully address the energy needs of low-income folks, communities of color, and can be done in a self-sustaining way through meaningful employment of people who’ve been left out of the energy industry,” Amarnath said.

As of last October, solar systems provided 6% of New Jersey’s electricity.

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