New Jersey: Commercial Solar Financing + Government Incentives 0

New Jersey is a solar energy leader in the US. By 2030, about 50% of the state’s electricity is expected to come from clean renewable energy energy sources with solar energy growing from 7% in 2020 to 34% of New Jersey’s electricity by 2050. 

Many businesses, non-profits, public organizations, and engineering, procurement, and construction (EPC) firms often can’t install a solar system because of a lack of financing. Fortunately in New Jersey, there are more commercial solar financing options available that require little to no money up front from organizations. 

We’ll go over the main C&I solar financing options available from both public and private sources to help you evaluate the best options to kickstart your solar project. 

Main Commercial Solar Financing Options in New Jersey (NJ)

Each of these choices offers unique advantages and can be tailored to fit the specific needs and financial strategies of different types of businesses in New Jersey, enabling them to capitalize on the benefits of solar energy effectively.

Solar Power Purchase Agreement (PPA)

A Solar PPA is a financial agreement where a solar provider installs solar panels on a commercial property at no upfront cost to the property owner. Instead, the property owner agrees to purchase the electricity generated by the system at a predetermined rate, which is typically lower than the local utility rate. 

Types of C&I Projects a Solar PPA Is Good For

This type of financing is ideal for organizations that want to reduce their energy costs without the capital expenditure or maintenance responsibilities of owning a solar system. It’s particularly beneficial for large manufacturing facilities or businesses with high energy consumption that can leverage the scale of their operations for better rates.

Solar Lease

Under a solar lease, a business agrees to pay a fixed monthly fee to lease the solar energy system from a provider. This arrangement allows businesses to utilize solar energy without purchasing the equipment outright. The lease typically includes maintenance and repairs, making it a hassle-free option for businesses that prefer not to handle system upkeep.

Types of C&I Projects a Solar Lease Is Good For

Solar leases are well-suited for medium-sized businesses or commercial properties like shopping centers that seek to stabilize energy costs without a significant initial investment.

Solar Loan

A solar loan allows businesses to finance the purchase and installation of a solar system through borrowed funds that are paid back over time with interest. This option benefits businesses that prefer to own their solar system outright and take advantage of the associated tax credits and depreciation benefits.

Types of C&I Projects a Solar Loan Is Good For

Solar loans are ideal for businesses with sufficient credit capacity that seek long-term savings and control over their energy resources, such as corporate campuses or large office buildings.

Commercial Property Assessed Clean Energy (C-PACE)

C-PACE financing enables commercial property owners to fund energy efficiency and renewable energy projects through a property tax assessment. The financing is repaid over time as part of the property tax bill, often with terms extending up to 20 years. 

Types of C&I Projects a C-PACE Is Good For

This arrangement is particularly beneficial for businesses planning major renovations or new constructions that want to incorporate sustainable practices without diverting cash flow away from core business activities. It is an excellent choice for hotels, hospitals, and other commercial properties looking to enhance their energy sustainability while improving property value.

Energy Service Agreements (ESA)

An energy service agreement is a contract where an energy service provider designs, installs, and maintains an energy system on a client’s property at no upfront cost. In return, the client pays for the energy produced at a rate that is typically lower than what the local utility charges. 

Types of C&I Projects an ESA Is Good For

This type of agreement is beneficial for businesses that wish to avoid all capital and operational expenditures associated with energy systems. ESAs are ideal for businesses like data centers and large retail stores that require consistent energy usage but want to avoid the complexities and costs of system management.

C&I Solar Financing Companies for New Jersey Property Owners

Geoscape Solar  

Geoscape Solar is a commercial solar installation company in New Jersey with a network of financial institutions to offer the appropriate type of commercial solar funding. Their team specializes in creating custom options tailored to customers needs.  

C&I Solar Financing

  • Traditional Power Purchase Agreement (PPA): A third-party investor buys the solar power system from Geoscape Solar and owns, operates, and maintains the system for the life of the term. There are no up-front costs, you only pay for the electricity your solar system produces, your business receives the electricity savings, and the terms are 15-25 years. 
  • Purchase Loans: Borrow money from a bank and the loans can be secured by your real estate or unsecured. Your business will own the solar system, you will immediately save on electricity, and can receive the ITC federal tax credit and accelerated depreciation. 
  • Easy Own PPA: Geoscape Solar maintains the ownership of the solar system while you save on electricity. You keep all of the utility savings and state incentives. It is a 20-year term and there’s an early buyout option after 6 years.  
  • Operating Lease: A financing company buys the solar system from Geoscape Solar and leases it to the commercial customer. There are no upfront costs and there are simply monthly payments. The terms are from 6 to 10 years and you can buy out at the end of the lease term. 
  • Capital Lease: This is similar to loans. You can capitalize on all tax and depreciation benefits that come with solar. The monthly payments are usually higher than an operating lease. There are no upfront costs, involves a fixed monthly payment, and the terms are 5 to 15 years.  

Green Sun Energy Service

They offer a range of energy solutions including solar energy installations, battery backups, and EV charging stations. They collaborate with partners that enable them to provide flexible financing solutions tailored to businesses of all sizes whether a company is a small enterprise or a large corporation.

  • Borrower-friendly solar loans: Efficient and designed to accommodate various business needs.
  • Diverse loan terms: Options range from 5 to 20 years.
  • Project financing range: $50,000 to $5 Million. 
  • Collateral simplified: Eliminates real property liens and the solar system is the sole collateral. 

Sustainable Capital Finance (US-Wide)

Sustainable Capital Finance offers PPA and takeout solutions for commercial and non-profit solar projects that are 100 kW or more across the US. Takeout solutions in the context of solar projects typically involve replacing short-term financing with long-term financing. This means that Sustainable Capital Finance helps transition the initial financing used to start the solar project to a more permanent financing arrangement. The company has provided solar systems for municipalities, tribes, non-profits, religious institutions, and schools. 

Greentech Renewables (US-Wide)

Their team manages secure financing options for commercial solar projects around the US. They coordinate the procurement of materials, oversee loan acquisition and management, and facilitate communication with lending partners.

SunRenu (US-Wide)

SunRenu provides financing options for businesses looking to finance their solar energy systems, either partially or entirely. Their C&I solar financing choices allow clients to get a solar energy system with minimal or no upfront expenses. SunRenu is offering commercial customers a non-recourse solar loan up to 20 years that is fully amortized and no prepayment penalty in all 50 states. 

What Is the Solar Loan Program for Businesses in NJ?

PSE&G is a utility company that provides electricity and natural gas services to commercial, industrial, and residential customers in New Jersey. PSE&G’s Solar Loan Program allows customers to repay their solar panel installation loan with the energy generated. 

Benefits

  • Potentially save thousands of dollars per year on energy
  • Get started with minimal out-of-pocket costs
  • All solar loans have a repayment period of 10 years

The Government’s New Jersey Clean Energy Loans (NJ CELs) The vision of New Jersey Economic Development Authority (NJEDA) is to make New Jersey a national model for sustainable and equitable economic growth by investing in communities, fostering innovation, and supporting industries with high quality-jobs in the state.

New Jersey Clean Energy Loans is an $80 million co-lending program launched by NJEDA for small businesses looking to finance clean energy projects. They will lend between $250,000 to $10 million for projects requesting a total amount of $500,000 to $2 million.

NJ CELs will provide capital for small businesses and start-ups in addition to supporting minority, woman, and veteran-owned businesses to participate in the state’s energy transition. 

Check Eligibility

Complete the Eligibility Self-Assessment to determine your preliminary eligibility for this program, or email njcels@njeda.gov.

Solar Power Purchase Agreement New Jersey

Solar Power Purchase Agreements (PPAs) offer several key benefits for NJ commercial property owners: 

  1. PPAs provide a cost-effective way to adopt solar energy without the need for upfront capital investment. Instead of purchasing solar panels outright, property owners can enter into agreements with solar providers to lease the equipment and only pay for the electricity generated. This allows businesses to immediately start saving on energy costs without the financial burden of ownership. 
  2. PPAs typically include maintenance and performance guarantees, ensuring that the solar system operates efficiently throughout the contract period. 
  3. By leveraging solar energy, commercial property owners can demonstrate their commitment to sustainability and environmental stewardship, enhancing their brand image and attracting environmentally-conscious customers or tenants. 

UVcell Solar’s Innovative PPA Solution for NJ C&I Projects

Unlike many other PPA options, UVcell Solar’s solar PPA includes the main solar equipment so that EPC firms can use their mobilization funding on other key project areas like payroll and engineering

Main solar equipment provided with the PPA

  • Tariff-free, high quality Tier 1 solar panels
  • Inverter
  • Battery energy storage system

Reach out to us if you have any questions about the service. 

What Are the Government Incentives for Commercial Solar in New Jersey?

Federal Tax Credits

There are two federal solar tax credits that businesses, non-profits, and other entities that own solar facilities can benefit from: 

  1. Investment Tax Credit (ITC): Reduces the federal income tax liability for a percentage of the cost of a solar system that is installed during the tax year.  Solar systems that were installed in 2022 or later and begin construction before 2033 qualify for a 30% ITC.  
  2. Production Tax Credit (PTC): A per kilowatt-hour (kWh) tax credit for electricity generated by solar and other qualifying technologies for the first 10 years of system operation. This credit decreases federal income tax liability and is adjusted annually to reflect inflation. Solar systems that are installed in 2022 onwards and begin construction before 2033 are eligible for a 2.75 c/kWh PTC if they meet labor requirements issued by the Treasury Department or under 1 megawatt (MW) in size. 

It’s important to note that owners of projects can’t use both the Investment Tax Credit (ITC) and the Production Tax Credit (PTC) for the same property. However, they do have the option to apply for distinct credits for co-located systems such as solar and storage. The eligibility criteria are determined by guidelines provided by the Internal Revenue Service (IRS).

Net Metering

In NJ, net metering programs allow you to sell the excess energy generated by your solar panel system back to your utility company in exchange for billing credits. The state mandates all investor-owned utility companies to offer net metering, ensuring that customers receive monthly credits that are worth the full retail value of the excess energy generated by their solar panels. 

Customers can cash out any remaining credits at the end of their annualized period at the avoided-cost rate. Avoided-cost rate refers to the price that the utility company would have paid to generate or purchase the equivalent amount of electricity as the excess energy returned by the customer’s solar panels.

How to Enroll in Net Metering

Your solar company can guide you through the net metering enrollment process. 

The general steps include the following: 

  • Install your solar panel system: This must be done before you can apply for net metering.
  • Apply for interconnection through your utility company: Your solar company will help you submit the necessary paperwork to apply for interconnection with your utility company.
  • Sign your interconnection agreement: The utility company will approve your interconnection request and send an interconnection agreement for you to sign.
  • Install bi-directional meter: Once the paperwork is done, your utility company will send a representative to install the bi-directional meter which measures how much energy you supply to the grid to determine your monthly credit.
  • Turn your solar system on and start earning credits: Once your bi-direction meter is installed, your solar company will turn on your solar system so you can generate energy and earn credits through net metering.

Community Solar Energy Program (CSEP)

The Community Solar Energy Program (CSEP) offers rewards to eligible community solar projects to support the ongoing development of solar energy sources across New Jersey. The Community Solar Energy Program (CSEP) accepts new registrations until each Electric Distribution Company (EDC) reaches its maximum capacity or until June 1, 2025, whichever happens first. Once an EDC’s capacity is full, no new registrations will be accepted for that area. 

Register for CSEP

Submit the initial CSEP Initial registration package through the CSEP Registration Portal

Benefits of Businesses Participating in the Community Solar Energy Program

Access to Renewable Energy: By joining a community solar project, businesses gain access to clean and renewable energy without the need for on-site solar panels. This allows them to reduce their carbon footprint and contribute to environmental sustainability.

Cost Savings: Participating businesses receive credits on their utility bills for the solar energy generated by the community solar project. These credits can help offset electricity costs, leading to potential savings on energy expenses.

Flexibility and Convenience: Community solar programs offer flexibility for businesses that may not have suitable roofs or locations for installing solar panels. They can still benefit from solar energy without the logistical challenges associated with on-site installations.

Supporting Local Communities: By participating in community solar projects, businesses contribute to the growth of renewable energy infrastructure in their local communities. This helps create jobs, support economic development, and foster a cleaner and more sustainable environment.

Brownfields Redevelopment Incentive  

The Brownfields Redevelopment Incentive is a $50 million per year competitive, project-based tax credit. The program provides a one-time transferable tax credit to encourage initiatives like cleaning up pollution, reducing hazards and demolition activities that will allow for the redevelopment of brownfields sites for commercial, retail, or mixed-use development or expansion.   

Check back on this site for application window dates

New Jersey Successor Solar Incentive Program (SuSI)

In 2021, New Jersey transitioned from its Solar Renewable Energy Certificate (SREC) program to the Successor Solar Incentives (SuSI) initiative. Under SuSI, businesses with solar panel systems can earn money by selling renewable energy credits known as SREC-IIs. These credits represent the environmental value of electricity generated by renewable energy systems. Utility companies can buy SREC-IIs credits to meet New Jersey’s renewable portfolio standards.  

See how to participate in SuSI

Sales Tax Exemption

New Jersey offers 100% state sales tax exemption to all taxpayers on the sale of solar energy equipment.

How to Claim the Sales Tax Exemption

  1. Complete the Form ST-4: Businesses need to fill out the Exempt Use Certificate (Form ST-4) accurately and completely. This form includes information about the business, the seller, and details about the exempt transaction.
  2. Provide the Form to the Seller: Once completed, the business provides the Form ST-4 to the seller of the solar energy equipment at the time of purchase. This certifies that the purchase qualifies for the sales tax exemption under the state’s laws.
  3. Seller’s Responsibilities: The seller retains a copy of the completed Form ST-4 for their records. They may also be required to submit it to the New Jersey Division of Taxation as part of their reporting obligations.
  4. Claiming the Exemption: By submitting the Form ST-4 to the seller, the business ensures that they do not pay sales tax on the eligible purchase of solar energy equipment. The exemption is applied at the point of sale, reducing the total cost of the transaction for the business.
  5. Record-Keeping: It’s important for businesses to keep a copy of the completed Form ST-4 for their records. This helps ensure compliance with state tax laws and provides documentation in case of any inquiries or audits by tax authorities.

Renewable Energy System Property Tax Exemption

You can qualify for the renewable energy system property tax exemption if you have a commercial or industrial property with a renewable energy system, certified by the local enforcing agency. The exemption is the difference between the total assessed value of the property before and after the renewable energy system has been installed.

How to Apply

Follow the instructions on Form CRES and file with your tax assessor who will reduce your property’s valuation to what it would be without the solar system. 

Modified Accelerated Cost-Recovery System (MACRS)

MACRS, or Modified Accelerated Cost Recovery System, is a tax depreciation method used by the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) in the United States. Essentially, it’s a way for businesses to recover the cost of certain assets they buy for their business, like equipment or property, over a set period of time.

How It Works

Let’s say a commercial property owner purchases solar panels for their building. Instead of deducting the entire cost of the panels in one go, MACRS allows them to spread out the deduction over several years, typically five or more. 

By spreading out the deduction, the property owner can reduce their taxable income each year, which can result in lower taxes. This can be particularly beneficial for commercial property owners investing in renewable energy projects like solar power, as it helps make the initial investment more financially manageable and provides long-term tax savings.

C-PACE Programs in New Jersey

Nuveen Green Capital (National Lender)

C-PACE can be used for most types of C&I buildings to finance energy improvements and renewable energy infrastructure. Building types include hotel, industrial, agriculture, mixed-use, multi-family, office, and retail. They provide C-PACE financing in 34 states and the District of Columbia.  

C-PACE.COM

Allows building owners and developers to access the capital they need to make energy-related deferred maintenance upgrades in their existing buildings, support new construction costs, and make renewable energy accessible and cost-effective.

  • 20-30 years fixed rate loan
  • 100% Financing of eligible measures
  • 100% Non-Recourse upon completion

How Does C-PACE Solar Financing in NJ Work?

C-PACE solar financing in New Jersey is like getting a loan to install solar panels on your property, but with a twist. Instead of repaying the loan directly, you pay it back through an additional charge on your property tax bill. This way, you can spread out the cost over many years. Plus, the energy savings from the solar panels can help cover the payments. It’s a way to make solar energy more affordable for property owners while also helping the environment.

What Is the Solar Act in New Jersey (NJ)?

New Jersey has implemented several regulations in the last decade to increase solar power across the state including: 

  • Solar Act (2012) 
  • Clean Energy Act (2018)
  • Solar Panel Recycling Initiatives (2019)
  • Solar Act (2021)
  • Dual-Use Solar Energy Pilot Program (2021)
  • Solar Ready Warehouses (2021)

The Solar Act in New Jersey is significant legislation aimed at stabilizing and expanding New Jersey’s solar energy market, ensuring continued growth and sustainability within the state.  The Solar Act of 2012 was a pivotal step for New Jersey, helping the state maintain its position as a leader in the solar industry across the United States. It provided necessary adjustments to ensure the solar market’s health and drove investments towards sustainable and responsible solar energy production within the state.

What Is the Dual Use Solar Program in New Jersey? 

The Dual-Use Solar Energy Pilot Program is a law in New Jersey that passed in 2021 that encourages both solar energy and farming on the same land. This helps protect farmland while also creating renewable energy.

Eligibility

The legislation specifies that the dual use solar program applies to solar energy generation facilities installed on farmland. These facilities must meet certain criteria to be eligible for participation in the program.

Dual Use Concept

The program encourages the implementation of solar energy systems in a manner that allows for continued agricultural use of the land. This involves designing solar installations in a way that minimizes their impact on agricultural activities, such as by elevating solar panels to allow crops or livestock to be raised underneath.

Agricultural Productivity Requirements

The legislation emphasizes the importance of maintaining agricultural productivity on farmland where solar energy systems are installed. It mandates that participating solar projects must demonstrate a commitment to preserving agricultural activities and soil health while generating renewable energy.

Regulatory Oversight

The dual use solar program is subject to regulatory oversight by relevant state agencies, ensuring compliance with program requirements and environmental standards. This includes monitoring the impact of solar installations on farmland and implementing measures to mitigate any adverse effects on agricultural productivity.

Conclusion

In New Jersey, commercial property owners have a wide range of C&I solar financing options, providing organizations the ability to adopt renewable energy. Whether through Power Purchase Agreements (PPAs), solar leases, Commercial Property Assessed Clean Energy (C-PACE) programs, or other financing options, commercial property owners have access to flexible and tailored solutions to suit their specific needs and financial circumstances. 

By leveraging these financing options, businesses can not only reduce their energy costs and enhance their bottom line but also demonstrate their commitment to sustainability, environmental responsibility, and community leadership. With New Jersey’s ongoing commitment to renewable energy initiatives and its nurturing regulatory climate, commercial property owners are primed to benefit from C&I solar financing.

Melissa brings over 20 years of communications and marketing experience, consistently delivering impactful contributions that strengthen organizational relationships, optimize operational efficiency, and increase sales. With a deep-rooted interest in environmental solutions, she loves applying her skills to increase the adoption of solar technology globally.
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