New Jersey warehouse owner deploys 556 kW rooftop solar using local workforce


With the state of New Jersey’s pilot community solar program not to be signed into law for another few months, momentum from the Inflation Reduction Act and energy justice initiatives has kept solar developments moving quickly to meet the Garden State’s goal of generating 100% clean energy by 2035.

Solar Landscape, a New Jersey-based solar developer, has completed work on a 556 kW warehouse rooftop solar array in Secaucus, N.J. for Principal Asset Management. The project’s development used locally trained workers from the STEP-UP (Solar Training and Education Partnership for Underserved Populations) group.

The STEP-UP program is run by career development firm Edison Job Corps with the participation of GAF Energy and Trinity Solar. To date, 29 New Jersey residents from low-to-moderate income (LMI) communities have been trained to become solar installers at a training center in Edison, N.J.

In addition to being a catalyst for workforce development initiatives, the 556 kW (DC) installation will also advance the clean energy transition. (Image: Solar Landscape)

Solar energy provided by the installation on the Secaucus rooftop will provide enough clean energy for 90 nearby homes, saving those residents $20,000 per year on electricity bills and avoiding 478 tons of carbon emissions from conventional power resources.

“Financial inclusion and environmental impact are fundamental aspects of our commitment to sustainability,” said Jennifer McConkey, managing director of ESG, Principal Asset Management. “Together with Solar Landscape and its training partners, the program is introducing community members to entirely new careers in clean energy. In addition, this program addresses critical sustainability and social goals to be a good neighbor to our communities and a clean energy model for the rest of the country.”

Principal Asset Management is an affiliate of Principal Financial Group, a public Des Moines, Iowa-based asset manager with $501.5 billion of global holdings. The investment firm’s 2022 ESG report highlighted the firm’s use of renewable energy to power 58% of its U.S. facility operations, or a total of 41.65 GWh of clean energy. The firm is also installing rooftop solar in northern California at commercial office buildings with DSD Renewables.

The 556 kW Secaucus project is just the latest warehouse rooftop project Solar Landscape has constructed with offtake power made available to local residents, including LMI communities, under New Jersey’s pilot community solar program.

Last month pv magazine USA toured a 1.1 MW rooftop facility project of the developer in Avenel, N.J. After first powering its Edison, N.J. headquarters with 100% clean energy from a 500 kW rooftop solar array, building owner RPM Warehousing opted to utilize the remainder of three New Jersey warehouse rooftops to provide 4.3 MW of solar energy to some 700 local households in Perth Amboy and Edison, N.J.

Solar Landscape installer John Bruno pointed out the rooftop arrays use of U.S.-made QCells solar modules shipped from Georgia, in addition to SolarEdge inverters.

N.J. community solar

After an April 24 public stakeholder meeting for input on New Jersey’s community solar program, stakeholders have a May 15 deadline to send feedback to the New Jersey Board of Public Utilities for or against the program framework.  Governor Phil Murphy is expected to sign the program into law later this year.

According to the New Jersey Board of Public Utilities, the state’s community solar pilot program saw seven projects come online in 2022, bringing the total installations to 21 community projects. The projects now provide bill credits to more than 5,500 New Jersey residents, saving more than $1 million on energy costs in the second year of the community solar program.

The state’s regulator anticipates another 100 community solar projects energizing in 2023, bringing over 150 MW of renewable energy to additional subscribers, half of which must be low- or moderate-income.

In 2022 the Garden State saw a near-record of 800 new commercial solar installations with 267 MW of generating capacity. The state hopped into eighth place (from 10th a year ago) among the Solar Energy Industries Association’s top-ranked U.S. solar states, with 4.41 GW of cumulative solar deployments.

“The record-setting pace at which New Jerseyans are installing solar panels shows that people across the Garden State increasingly recognize the benefits that come from using clean energy,” said Joseph Fiordaliso, president of the NJBPU.

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