Renewable Energy Grant is Driving Solar Roof Development in New Jersey

Interest in solar and other renewable applications will heighten in coming months

Fort Lee, N.J.-–When Congress passed the latest tax legislation in late December, the bill also extended the Renewable Energy Grant program, providing 30 percent cash rebates for qualified projects. The legislation, originally set to expire at the end of this year, will now remain in effect at least through the end of 2011, further heightening interest in solar and other renewable applications.

According to Adam Putter, president of Solar Roof Development based in Fort Lee, N.J., “The Renewable Energy Grant has contributed to significant growth of this industry in New Jersey.” Putter estimates that commercial solar installations have expanded by nearly 400 percent growth since 2008.

“With the latest action, anyone who purchases a solar installation will continue to receive a check from the U.S. government amounting to 30 percent of the system’s cost,” he said. “In addition, banks are more willing to lend funding for solar projects with the grant as a down payment so commercial companies can purchase the equipment with virtually no money down.”

Known as the Section 1603 Grant, the program was enacted as part of the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009, according to Putter. The 30 percent grant for energy property is in lieu of certain tax credits. In addition to extending the grant, the recent legislation makes projects eligible for 100 percent accelerated depreciation of the system, less half of the cash grant or investment, in the first year, if that system is put into service between September 8, 2010 and December 31, 2011.

According to Putter, the incentives offered by the State of New Jersey are extraordinary and include rebates based on energy efficiency measures, and solar renewable energy certificates (SRECS). These can be utilized as a recurring revenue source to help finance projects. Based on reports from the Solar Energy Industries Association, New Jersey ranks second nationally only to California for grant-related solar projects, receiving 164 grants totaling $241 million in investments and $72 million in funding in the past year.

Solar Roof Development’s services include energy audits; evaluation of return on investment; competitive bidding for equipment and installation from a network of providers, including access to pricing not available to the public; exploration of financing options and tax incentives; and counseling during contract negotiations.