Union City has a population of nearly 70,000, and boosts a very diverse population. The Cuban population of the city is particularly high, which has earned it the nickname “Havana on the Hudson.” Union City is also one of the most densely populated cities in the nation, with over 50,000 inhabitants per square mile. The embroidery industry played a very important role in Union City’s development, and it was the main factor that drew in immigration from such a wide range of countries. The Embroidery Plaza is dedicated to the industry and commemorates its role in shaping the city. Nowadays, Union City has stepped away from industrial activity and is composed mostly of residential and commercial buildings.
The Public Service Electric and Gas Corporation (PSE&G) is the local utility company serving Union City residents and businesses. The utility has recently been working to reduce the environmental impact of its operations, while increasing its use of solar power and other renewable sources:
Union City homeowners pay PSE&G around 15 cents per kilowatt-hour (kWh) of electricity, which exceeds the average US electricity rate by 25%. However, expensive electricity means that solar power is an attractive investment, since energy savings from solar increase with higher electricity rates. In addition, PSE&G has been increasing its rates over recent years – its customers experienced a 5% increase on their power bills during 2016.
Solar is not just a good investment for Union City residents because of the potential energy bill savings, which can be as high as $150 per 1,000 kWh of solar energy produced. Home and business owners can also accumulate and sell Solar Renewable Energy Credits (SRECs) back to the utility. Basically, solar panel owners earn one SREC for every 1,000 kWh of solar electricity generated, and each SREC can be sold for around $220. Thus, the total economic benefit of going solar is $370 per 1,000 kWh of energy your solar system produces!
In addition to the SREC program, the New Jersey state government has made solar panels exempt from taxes: you are not billed any sales tax when you purchase solar panels, and you can waive the property tax increase (solar panels actually make your home more valuable, but you won’t have to pay more property taxes). There is also a 30% federal tax credit for solar panel systems, which is a nationwide benefit. In other words, solar panels in Union City help reduce your tax burden while being tax-free themselves. And, your solar panel system can produce a new cash flow through the SREC program.
With all the incentives available in Union City, solar panels are both affordable and potentially lucrative. Loan financing can be a good idea from a financial standpoint; home and business owners can avoid upfront expenses and pay off the loan with a combination of tax credits, SREC sales, and energy savings. PSE&G has a special loan program available to customers who agree to sell their SRECs back to PSE&G, but there are also many other banks willing to provide loans for residents of Union City.