Solar panel project halfway finished in New Jersey

PSE&G is now about halfway through the process of installing solar panels on its utility poles throughout New Jersey.

Since it began the Neighborhood Solar Program in September 2009, the company has attached panels to about 104,000.

New Jersey Sierra Club director Jeff Tittel said the program does get people familiar with solar installations, but he has some concern about the expense.

“It’s not as cost-effective as building a large solar field on a brownfield or on a rooftop because of the additional cost of labor to put one panel on each pole,” he said.

But PSE&G would have to pay to acquire the land for large-scale solar installations, said Frank Czigler, PSE&G’s director of renewable energy projects.

“There would be additional permits to obtain that would increase the time-frame of being able to build it,” Czigler said. “And there would be some upgrades, I am sure, of the existing infrastructure, the distribution, lines to be able to interconnect.”

The company plans to install panels on another 80,000 poles by the end of next year to help meet the goal of having solar power generate 3 percent of the state’s electricity by the year 2020.

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