New Jersey develops Private-Public Financing for Major Solar Installation
An innovative financing agreement combining county bonds and funds from Tioga Energy will enable Morris County, New Jersey to install solar roof panels on county property. County officials have dubbed the landmark public-private financing method the “Morris Model.”
The 3.2 megawatts worth of panels will be installed atop 14 schools and 5 other properties, including the William G. Mennen Sports Arena which seats 2,500 and houses three ice rinks and an outside rugby playing field. Construction is beginning now, just six months after Morris County announced the financing plans in January, 2010.
The partnership involves the Morris County Improvement Authority (MCIA), Tioga Energy, and SunDurance Energy, who will provide and install the panels. Morris County will guarantee $30 million in bonds, and Tioga will receive federal tax incentives and pass on the savings to Morris County.
A 15-year power purchase agreement adds more savings to the initial financing, and will enable Morris County to purchase electricity generated by the solar panels at two-thirds the normal rate. When the package of installations is completed, MCIA estimates an average annual savings of 35 percent on energy bills for the schools fitted with panels, and approximately 22% overall for the New Jersey County.
Although New Jersey may not be thought of as a sunshine state, it has taken a leadership role in solar energy and won a 2009 State Leadership award in clean energy practices. The state’s support of financing incentives for its energy policy has led to several large projects, such as Anheuser-Busch’s recent solar installation. In fact, New Jersey ranks second only to California in production of solar energy.