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PSE&G Neighborhood Solar
Pole Attached Solar Panel Initiative Facts and FAQs
For the “neighborhood” portion of Solar 4 All, PSE&G is installing 40 megawatts of solar units on utility poles in the more than 300 towns and cities in PSE&G's electric service territory. These solar units have a capacity of about 235 watts(dc) of electricity and are installed on appropriate existing utility poles. The manufacturer of this solar unit is Petra Solar in South Plainfield, NJ
- What is the PSE&G pole-attached solar initiative?
- How does this project benefit customers and the state?
- Where are the solar units being installed?
- What do the solar units look like and how do they attach to the poles?
- How does PSE&G select the poles that will have solar units installed on them?
- Who is installing the solar units?
- Will PSE&G move a solar unit if residents don’t like where it is installed?
- Is snow build-up on the panels a major concern?
- Does PSE&G have the legal authority to install these panels in towns?
- Does the installation of these pole attached solar units negatively affect property values?
- Why can’t PSE&G put the solar units at the top of the pole?
- Does PSE&G intend to perform tree trimming specifically to maximize the panels’ exposure to sunlight?
- How do you know a panel is working properly?
- How will PSE&G maintain the panels?
In July 2009, PSE&G received regulatory approval to install 40 megawatts worth of small solar energy units on utility poles in the towns in PSE&G electric service territory. The solar power that these units produce flow directly into the electric grid for the benefit of all PSE&G electric customers. The pole-attached solar program is the first of its kind and is the largest pole-attached solar installation in the world.
The pole-attached solar units provide PSE&G electric customers with a number of direct benefits.
Since all of these solar units connect directly into the PSE&G electric grid used by customers, the solar power they generate replaces some amount of traditional fossil fuel electric generation.
Each pole- attached solar unit placed in service generates value from the sale of its electricity and capacity into the wholesale electric grid, the valuable Solar Renewable Energy Certificates (SRECs) it produces and the federal investment tax credits that PSE&G attracts. PSE&G monetizes all of this value and the dollars are returned to customers by offsetting the overall cost of the program.
The pole-attached solar units help New Jersey reach its renewable energy portfolio requirement that was set in the state’s Energy Master Plan and help the nation become less dependent on foreign energy sources.
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The solar units are being installed in residential, commercial and industrial areas of the more than 300 municipalities that PSE&G serves.
The units are about 5 feet wide by 2 ½ feet high, weigh about 60 pounds and generate about 235 watts of electricity. They are safely and securely attached to the pole at a height that is in accordance with all applicable safety regulations.
PSE&G is installing panels on utility poles that offer a clear exposure to the southern sky, access to the proper voltage electric wires and where installation does not interfere with existing equipment on the pole. Not all utility poles will receive a solar unit since only those that meet these three criteria are eligible.
PSE&G is using a third-party contractor to install the units on all appropriate utility poles
PSE&G understands that residents may have concerns about the placement of the solar energy units in their neighborhoods. However, these panels are completely silent, generate clean renewable energy and are attached to the poles in a safe and secure manner. Because all eligible poles are needed to meet the goal of installing 40 megawatts of solar capacity under this program segment, we regret that we are not able to move a particular unit to another location.
There are two reasons why we don’t believe that snow and ice accumulation on the pole attached solar units poses a unique problem.
First, even a moderate amount of sunshine warms the panels as part of the reaction that creates the solar power. This warming melts some of the snow thus reducing the amount of snow that can accumulate and potentially slide off. Second, the panels are installed about 15 feet off the ground, which exposes the panels to more wind, which would tend to blow snow off.
These solar panels are similar to the many other pieces of PSE&G equipment on the utility pole that are also exposed to winter weather. While we don’t foresee snow and ice build up as a major issue, a reasonable amount of care should be taken around any overhead structures during extreme snow and ice conditions.
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Yes. PSE&G is governed by state law that provides us with the authority to use the public right of way for the distribution and supply of electricity on utility poles. These solar units are part of the supply and distribution of electricity since they are connected to the distribution network. Furthermore, the New Jersey Board of Public Utilities has approved the initiative.
There is no evidence that pole mounted solar panels have any affect on residential property values. The panels are no different from any other piece of equipment that is located on the utility pole. Electric transformers and cable boxes have been located on utility poles for decades. In the decades since those facilities have been installed on utility poles there has been absolutely no evidence that they have any affect on property values.
The units are being installed about 15’ off the ground in compliance with the National Electric Safety Code (NESC). The NESC does not permit the installation of any equipment on utility poles – other than streetlights – in the space between the communications equipment and the electrical equipment. In addition, mounting them towards the top of the utility pole could create a hazardous condition for the workers installing them near the high voltage wires.
Does PSE&G intend to perform tree trimming specifically to maximize the panels’ exposure to sunlight?
We do not plan to do any tree trimming as a result of the pole-mounted solar unit installation program. Our pole selection criteria do not allow installation of these solar units in locations where trees would create shading. These units need sun to operate, so if a pole is too shaded, it is not eligible for a panel installation.
Tree trimming is performed on PSE&G’s core electrical assets to maintain the overall reliability of the PSE&G electric grid, which is one reason why our customers enjoy top tier reliability.
The panels are monitored remotely for performance from a central location. This will allow PSE&G to monitor each panel’s performance and make adjustments to its positioning or repair it.
The panels are, for the most part, maintenance-free. Once installed on the utility pole, we expect each to last for about 20 years. We will monitor the panels performance remotely and make repairs or adjustments as needed. We expect that rain will keep the panels clean.