The Public Service Electric and Gas Company (PSE&G) of Newark, N.J., has embarked on a $515 million, 80-megawatt Solar 4 All program in its quest to obtain 30% of its energy supply from renewable sources by 2020.

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“PSE&G has a pretty robust program in place,” says Dan Urban, business manager with J. Fletcher Creamer & Son of Hackensack, N.J., which received a $10.08 million contract last October to build a solar farm in Edison, N.J. PSE&G expects to start construction on this and three other solar farms in 2010, representing a $50 million investment in 12 megawatts of grid-connected solar energy, enough to power 1,300 homes.

Bill Chaney, chief operating officer for J. Fletcher’s design partner Innovation Engineering of Wall, N.J., agrees that federal and state incentives have spurred solar development in New Jersey, despite its weather, inclement compared to California, the solar leader.

“We get as much sun as in Florida,” Chaney says. “Even on cloudy days, the [solar arrays] run at 80% efficiency.”

Solar integrator Advanced Solar Products of Flemington, N.J., will provide the Edison Silver Lake Solar Farm array, and it serves as prime contractor on the Linden Solar Farm project, another Solar 4 All location.

The J. Fletcher/Innovations team completed engineering on the 2-megawatt project at the end of 2010 and is waiting for regulatory approval to begin construction.

“We are taking a piece of property PSE&G has little use for and transforming it,” Urban says. The Edison parcel sits in a residential neighborhood. It formerly served as a compressed gas manufacturing facility that was decommissioned. PSE&G has converted a portion of the property into a training center. Surrounding that is 5.7 acres of land set aside for the solar array.

J. Fletcher Creamer & Son will install a ballasted array system on a layer of stone to avoid disturbing the environmentally restricted soil, which currently is capped with pavement. The aluminum structure, weighted with concrete blocks, will stick up about 4-in from the ground on the low side and 17-in on the high side. The 8,500 235-watt panels will be mounted onto the structure. Four inverters will convert the direct-current power from the panels into alternating current. PSE&G will then tie the power produced into the company’s distribution system and the PJM wholesale grid.

The Solar 4 All program includes two 40-megawatt segments. The first $264 million phase entails installing small, distributed solar systems of approximately 200 watts on the company’s 200,000 utility poles. The second phase consists of the centralized solar rooftop or garden arrays at four PSE&G-owned sites; third-party sites still under review; and Urban Enterprise Zone sites,

PSE&G electric customers will fund the installations, with each residential customer paying about 10 cents per month during the first year. Projects will produce Solar Renewable Energy Certificates, which PSE&G will sell to offset program costs.

Key Facts
Project Cost: $10.8 milion
Owner: PSE&G, Newark, N.J.
Contractor: J. Fletcher Creamer & Son, Hackensack, N.J.
Engineer: Innovative Engineering, Wall, N.J.
Solar Integrator: Advanced Solar Products, Flemington, N.J.