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Concerns over New Jersey’s growth in solar power

October 20, 2010

The new Meridian Center Solar Plant in Eatontown, New Jersey, should produce 830,000 kilowatt-hours of power each year. Future projects could be more difficult to finance if federal tax benefits end.

The rapid growth of New Jersey’s solar industry is under threat from the imminent end of federal tax credits, solar developer Anova Energy Solutions has warned.

The company, which has just completed the largest solar installation in Monmouth County, New Jersey, said unless Congress extends the 30% federal tax credit for renewable energy projects, growth in clean energy deployments could stall. The Section 1603 tax grant is set to expire on December 31, 2010 unless US lawmakers act to extend the measure.

Gary Rafaloff, managing partner at New Jersey-based Anova, said: “Access to capital is very limited right now for small and mid-sized property owners. The 30% Tax Grant is commonly used as part of an equity contribution when financing the system with a loan or lease.” “Without the Tax Grant, many property owners will not qualify for financing,” Mr Rafaloff warned.

New Jersey is America’s second best state for grid-connected solar power projects, with 6,800 projects installed. The state reached a total of 200MW solar capacity last month, according to the New Jersey Board of Public Utilities.

Meridian Solar Partners

Mr Rafaloff’s concerns came as his company completed commissioning of a 728-kilowatt solar photovoltaic system in its home state. The facility at the Meridian Center Solar Plant in Eatontown includes 25 separate “mini-systems” on four adjacent buildings in the Meridian Center Business Park. The largest solar project in Monmouth County, the installation is expected to produce about 830,000 kilowatt-hours of renewable electricity each year.

Anova partnered with solar installers Trinity Solar to design and install the facility, in a project that started in 2009.Now it is complete, Anova will operate and maintain the plant on behalf of its owners, Meridian Solar Partners (MSP) LLC, an affiliated alternative energy private equity company made up of the Business Park’s building owners.

Eric Phillips, Managing Partner of MSP, said the project was a “win-win” for its owners.Mr Phillips said: “The property ownership will see a significant increase in their profits as they utilize their rooftops as a new source of revenue. They can also promote the solar systems as a means to attract environmentally conscious tenants to their buildings “At the same time, the tenants benefit from a reduction and long term stabilization of their energy costs,” Mr Phillips added.

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