With a population of nearly 150,000, Paterson is the third-largest city in New Jersey. Paterson was nicknamed Silk City due to is thriving silk industry during the 19th century, and it is also a multicultural city with significant Hispanic and Arab populations.
Like many cities in New Jersey, Paterson has spearheaded the growth of solar power in the US through innovative projects. One example is the Great Falls power plant, a hybrid energy generation facility that uses both solar panels and hydroelectric turbines to harness two renewable resources simultaneously. The Great Falls power plant was built in 1914, but originally it only used hydroelectricity; federal funding allowed the upgrade to a hybrid system in 2009, almost a century later.
Paterson also offers energy efficiency grants for low-income households and seniors. There is a strong focus on making heating more affordable, since it is among the top energy expenses in US households.
Electricity is relatively expensive in Paterson: Public Service Electric and Gas Company (PSE&G) charges around 15 cents per kilowatt-hour (kWh), and the average residential bill increased by 5% between 2016 and 2017. This means there are significant savings to achieve by deploying a solar panel system.
In addition to lowering your power bills, solar panels can be a source of extra income. In Paterson and New Jersey in general, you are granted one Solar Renewable Energy Credit (SREC) for every 1,000 kWh generated by your solar panel system. Local utilities are required to generate 22.5% of their energy from renewable sources by 2021, and purchasing credits is the easiest way for utilities to reach this target, so they are willing to pay top dollar for them. The 2017 price of a SREC in New Jersey is around $220, and when you add the $150 saved for every 1,000 kWh of solar electricity produced, the total economic benefit becomes $370 per kWh.
In addition to SREC sales, Paterson offers tax benefits for solar panel owners: the owner of solar panels are exempt from the sales tax when the panels are first purchased, and solar panel owners are not subject to an increase in property taxes even though added solar panels to your home raises your home value. If you are building a new home and plan to install solar panels, you may also be eligible to get a rebate from the NJ Clean Energy Residential New Constructions Program.
PSE&G offers an attractive financing option that allows you to deploy solar panels at zero upfront cost, as long as you agree to pay them back with the SRECs generated by your solar array. This is a great option because the energy savings are yours to keep, and PSE&G guarantees a fixed SREC purchase price even if their market value drops over time.