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By Kimberly M. S. Cartier

As the Arctic continues to warm, climate changes cascade into the marine environment. Top predators like polar bears, beluga whales, and narwhals are affected by shifting seasonality and loss of the Arctic sea ice that shapes where they live and what they eat. Moreover, changes in ocean currents alter the transport of toxins like mercury through Arctic waters, which can create health concerns for top consumers in marine food webs.

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The rapid breakup of glaciers, ice caps and ice sheets have a cascading effect. anyaberkut / Getty Images

By Stuart Braun

The melting of the polar ice caps has often been portrayed as a tsunami-inducing Armageddon in popular culture. In the 2004 disaster movie The Day After Tomorrow, the warming Gulf Stream and North Atlantic currents cause rapid polar melting. The result is a massive wall of ocean water that swamps New York City and beyond, killing millions in the process. And like the recent polar vortex in the Northern Hemisphere, freezing air then rushes in from the poles to spark another ice age.

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2022 New Jersey Solar Tax Credits, Incentives & Rebates

See what kind of financial incentives are available for Garden State homeowners who go solar.

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Robert D. Barnes / Getty Images

If you're looking for information about New Jersey solar tax credit and incentive programs, you've come to the right place. According to the latest data from the Energy Information Administration (EIA), electricity prices in New Jersey are about 30% higher than the U.S. average. However, this also means that the kilowatt-hours produced by solar panels will save you about 30% more, and the state offers many financial incentives that improve your return on investment.

The Solar Energy Industries Association (SEIA) reports that by the end of Q2 2021, New Jersey had an installed solar capacity of 3,739 MW, which is enough to meet the electricity needs of over 579,000 homes. The NJ solar industry has already received over $11 billion in total investment, and there are 470 solar companies providing more than 5,300 jobs in the state.

New Jersey gets modest sunshine compared to states like Texas and California, but it has favorable laws and incentives for solar power. This has helped the Garden State become one of the best states for solar in the nation.

In this article, we'll take a look at the full array of New Jersey solar incentives. If you'd like to see right away how much a solar installation would cost for your home, you can use this tool or fill out the form below to get a free, no-obligation quote from a pre-screened New Jersey installer.

New Jersey Solar Tax Credits and Solar Rebates

When you consider New Jersey solar incentives and electricity prices, it's possible to get a solar payback period of less than six years. This is great for an investment that has a service life of 25 years or more and is covered by manufacturer warranties for the majority of that period. The following chart summarizes all the benefits available when going solar in New Jersey:

New Jersey Solar Incentive

Program Overview

New Jersey Net Metering Programs

Net metering is required by law in NJ, which means you get credits for surplus solar energy that gets exported to the grid. These credits can be used to pay power bills.

Transition Renewable Energy Certificates

You earn one TREC for every 1,000 kWh generated by your solar panels, and each TREC sells for $91.20 (as of November 2021).

New Jersey Solar Tax Exemptions

Solar panels are exempt from the 7% sales tax in NJ, and your home value increase after installing solar is exempt from property taxes.

Local Incentives

Additional incentives and low-interest financing programs may be available, depending on where you live in New Jersey.

New Jersey Net Metering Programs

Net metering is a simple concept, and it makes solar power much more valuable for homes. When your solar panels are producing more electricity than what your home is consuming, the difference gets fed back into the grid. Thanks to New Jersey's net metering regulations, electricity providers must give you full retail value credit for surplus solar energy, which gets subtracted from your electric bills.

  • As a quick example, assume your solar panel system produces 1,000 kWh of energy during a month, but you only consume 600 kWh. The other 400 kWh is exported to the grid.
  • Thanks to net metering, you'll receive the full value of that 400 kWh. In states without this benefit, electricity companies decide how to compensate you for surplus solar power, and many of them only give partial credit.

Jersey Central Power & Light (JCP&L) and PSE&G currently have the two largest net metering programs in New Jersey. If there is a month where your solar generation is higher than your electricity consumption, credits are rolled over to the next billing period. Once per year, accumulated credits in your favor are compensated at wholesale price (not retail price) and the balance resets to zero.

Transition Renewable Energy Certificates

In New Jersey, solar panels not only give you power bill savings. You can also accumulate Transition Renewable Energy Certificates based on how much electricity is generated.

  • For every megawatt-hour (1,000 kWh) of solar generation, you get one TREC.
  • Electric utilities and other companies with a legal obligation to support renewable energy will purchase TRECs as part of their compliance efforts.
  • As of November 2021, each TREC sells for $91.20.

If a solar energy system in New Jersey produces over 10,000 kWh per year, you get an additional 10 TRECs. With an electricity tariff of 16 cents/kWh, you would save $1,600 per year. However, you also get $912 for the 10 TRECs, and your total economic benefit is $2,512 per year.

New Jersey Solar Tax Exemptions

There are two main tax incentives for New Jersey homeowners going solar: a property tax exemption and state sales tax exemption.

  • Solar panels are exempt from increased property taxes. If a home has an assessed property value of $400,000, and solar panels increase this to $420,000, the owner will still be taxed on $400,000.
  • Solar panels are exempt from New Jersey's 7% sales tax, which immediately makes them more affordable. For example, if the sales price of your home solar system is $15,000, you're saving $1,050 right away.

Solar Rebates and Other Local Incentives

In addition to the incentive programs described above, additional benefits such as solar rebates may be available in some New Jersey municipalities. Before installing solar panels, make sure you're not missing out on any incentives available in your area.

New Jersey has also enacted laws that enable PACE financing in the state. PACE stands for Property Assessed Clean Energy, and these programs give you low-interest loans for solar panels and other clean energy upgrades. As of the end of 2021, there are a few PACE programs under development in New Jersey, but the options are still limited.

Federal Solar Tax Credit

The 26% federal solar tax credit is a nationwide benefit, and you can combine it with New Jersey solar incentives to improve your ROI. The official name of this incentive is the Investment Tax Credit or ITC. The credit is set to reduce to 22% in 2023 and will not be continued thereafter unless Congress approves an extension.

You can read our federal solar tax credit guide for more information on how this credit works.

Any top solar company will be able to help you identify and apply for financial incentives available in your area. To get connected to a certified installer near you, you can use this tool or fill out the form below.

FAQ: New Jersey Solar Incentives

Is solar really free in NJ?

No, New Jersey doesn't have any official programs that offer free solar panels. However, solar panels can achieve a payback period of fewer than six years in the state, while lasting for 25 years or more. In other words, you have free electricity for many years after recovering your initial investment.

With a low-interest loan, you can go solar for $0 upfront, then use electricity savings to pay off the loan. Strictly speaking, this doesn't make solar panels free, but they are essentially paying for themselves.

Is solar good in New Jersey?

Yes, solar is good in New Jersey. New Jersey has above-average electricity prices and many incentive programs for solar power, and this improves your return on investment when going solar. Although there are sunnier places in the U.S., New Jersey gets enough sunshine to make solar panels cost-effective.

Can you sell power back to the grid in NJ?

Yes, you sell power back to the grid in NJ. New Jersey has one of the best net metering programs in the U.S., where you get full credit for solar electricity that gets exported to the grid. Unused credit can be rolled over to the next month, and you get paid for accumulated credit once per year.

All electricity sent to the grid is credited at retail price, except for accumulated annual credits, which are paid at wholesale prices (the price paid by electricity providers when purchasing energy from power generators).

Leonardo David is an electromechanical engineer, MBA, energy consultant and technical writer. His energy-efficiency and solar consulting experience covers sectors including banking, textile manufacturing, plastics processing, pharmaceutics, education, food processing, fast food, real estate and retail. He has also been writing articles about energy and engineering topics since 2015.
Posts about climate change will now automatically be labelled with an information banner that directs people to accurate climate science data at Facebook's Climate Science Information Center. Facebook

By Anne-Sophie Brändlin

Facebook has started tackling dangerous climate change myths and anti-environment propaganda that circulates among the platform's almost 3 billion monthly users.

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This picture taken on February 11, 2021 shows a view of Dragon's blood (Dracaena cinnabari) trees at the top of Dixam mountain in the Yemeni Island of Socotra, a site of global importance for biodiversity conservation, located in the northwestern Indian Ocean some 200 kilometers south of the Yemeni mainland. AFP / Getty Images

What Is Biodiversity?

Polar bears, honeybees, mango trees and coral reefs are all examples of the countless animal and insect species, plant life and ecosystems that comprise the planet's vast biodiversity. Every living organism has a role to play in an intricate web of connectedness, no matter the size, and without them, there would be no life on Earth. Removing just one from the chain can send significant ripple effects throughout the system, even if those effects aren't immediately felt. More crucially, every species lost increases the extinction risk to another connected species.

While biodiversity exists wherever there is life, there are some places on Earth that are considered biodiversity hotspots — specific areas that are teeming with native species that can't be found anywhere else in the world, from koalas in Australia to giant pandas in China. There are currently 36 areas that qualify as hotspots, but consider this: While that number comprises only 2.4 percent of the planet, those regions contain almost 43 percent of endemic species. But these hotspots are increasingly threatened by human activity and climate change.

Not only that, but a United Nations Intergovernmental Science-Policy Platform on Biodiversity and Ecosystem Services Report warned that about a million species currently face extinction, and for some it's just a matter of decades. As it stands, a 2018 World Wildlife Fund report shared that the world's vertebrate populations declined an average 60 percent in each category (mammals, birds, fish, reptiles and amphibians) since 1970.

Why Is Biodiversity Important to Ecosystems?

Mangrove roots in Mochima, Venezuela. Humberto Ramirez / Moment / Getty Images

Think of biodiversity as acting behind the scenes of day-to-day life. It's nature's way of providing clean air and water, food, resources (medicine, wood) and even climate protection. Yet consider that only 20 percent of Earth's species — at most — have been identified by science. Swedish botanist Carl Linnaeus began the daunting task in the 1700s, and since that time scientists have estimated that about 8.7 million unknown species exist, although only about 1.2 million species have been identified. Of that number, who knows how many critical ecosystem players have already gone extinct, or are critically endangered, before their role is even clear?

How Do Insects and Animals Impact Us?

It's impossible to discuss this without covering the sixth mass extinction. As the name indicates, there have already been five mass extinction events throughout history, with the last one wiping out the dinosaurs 67 million years ago following an asteroid strike. After each of the prior mass extinctions, which were mainly caused by environmental factors that eliminated as much as 95 percent of existing species, scientists estimated that it took millions more years before biodiversity regained pre-mass extinction numbers.

The difference today is that the current ongoing extinction threat could have been avoided since it's a human-led catastrophe. A recent study from the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences revealed that more than 237,000 populations of 515 species have likely gone extinct since 1900, with many more not far behind; or, 100 times faster in the past 100 years compared to the more normal range of up to 10,000 years for some species. So what does that really mean?

Consequences

Without the proper number of species performing their daily tasks, the everyday aspects of life that we take for granted, including oxygen and a plentiful food supply, will worsen. For example, the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) has listed seven honeybee species as critically endangered. If all of the world's bees were to disappear, there would be few insects left to pollinate certain plants, ultimately affecting global food supply chains and the economy. A recent study found that bees and other insect pollinators contributed 34 billion to the U.S economy in 2012 alone.

While the worst-case scenario has yet to happen regarding bees, the world is still dealing with the very likely connection between biodiversity loss and infectious diseases. Though still unproven, scientists are getting closer to linking habitat loss and the deadly COVID-19 pandemic. Less land increases the likelihood of diseases spreading from animal species, such as bats, to humans. Until habitat loss is properly addressed, experts warn that pandemics will only increase in severity and frequency.

Then there are the financial costs, which are twofold. A UN report found that governments around the world allocated between $78-91 billion a year on biodiversity goals, when in fact hundreds of billions of dollars a year are needed, the report estimated. Without spending more to tackle the issues, biodiversity loss will wind up costing the world up to $140 trillion a year.

Which Species Are Most At Risk?

A Toucan feeds on fruit offered on Aug. 24 2020 at an inn at km 110 of the Transpantaneira highway whose fire consumed everything around along with the wildfires that has already burned more than 16.500 sq. km of the Brazilian Pantanal. Gustavo Basso / NurPhoto / Getty Images

The IUCN Red List identifies which species are most at risk for extinction, including their numbers, direct threats and conservation efforts. The Red List estimates that more than 37,000 known species currently face extinction, including, but not limited to, 41 percent of amphibians, 36 percent of sharks, 33 percent of coral reefs, 26 percent of mammals and 14 percent of birds. The IUCN has categorized species into Not Evaluated, Data Deficient, Least Concern, Near Threatened, Vulnerable, Endangered, Critically Endangered, Extinct in the Wild and Extinct. Among the most critically endangered are Amur leopards, vaquita porpoises, Sumatran rhinos and Cross River gorillas. In some cases, such as the vaquita porpoise, researchers believe less than a dozen exist in the wild.

Many other species, including those in the food chain such as Chilean sea bass and Atlantic bluefin tuna, are being pushed toward extinction thanks to popular consumer demand, which leads to overfishing.

Then there are the species that the world has permanently lost in the last 100 years, from the Tasmanian tiger, which was hunted to extinction (mainly for museum display purposes) to the Pinta giant tortoise, a Galápagos native that was hunted to extinction by the fishing industry. The last known survivor, Lonesome George, passed away in captivity in 2012. In more recent years, the media has been following the world's last two remaining northern white rhinos. Both female, their kind is headed toward extinction, but scientists are attempting IVF using white rhino surrogates in the wild.

Yet the question remains, why are so many species going extinct or are threatened with extinction compared to previous centuries? As with most complex issues, there's no one explanation. Rather, a combination of population growth/overconsumption, the wildlife trade, pesticides, pollution, hunting, deforestation, wildfires, invasive species, big ag and climate change are among the larger culprits.

Habitat Loss

This category poses the largest threat to global biodiversity as rainforests to plains are cleared to make way for agriculture, housing and everything else that comes with modern-day living. Rainforests around the world especially suffered in 2020, having lost 12 percent of tree cover due in part to wildfires. Many of these wildfires in turn are caused by deforestation, with Brazil leading the way under far-right President Jair Bolsonaro to raze this resource for more profitable industries involving cattle and soy. As a result, Brazil's deforestation loss hit a 12-year high in 2020 according to the National Institute for Space Research (INPE). This biodiverse hotspot is now at risk of losing endangered species such as the Amazonian jaguar, hyacinth macaw, pink dolphins and spider monkeys. Other major habitat loss threats throughout the Amazon come from gold mining and logging. Unfortunately, this scale of destruction isn't limited to the Amazon, with habitat loss taking a toll on species everywhere from Nepal and Borneo to China and Africa.

Big Ag

Ironically, the industry responsible for providing the world's food supply is also a major contributor. Industrial agriculture is a main culprit behind habitat loss as increasing amounts of land are converted to feed growing populations. Compounding this is an overreliance on a small number of crops and animals to meet global food supply needs, placing some of these species at risk for extinction.

Population Growth

About 600 million people populated the planet in 1700 compared to 7.7 billion in 2019. Future projections put that number even higher, reaching 10.9 billion by 2021. This massive population boom has taxed Earth's finite resources. While a Population Action International study has concluded that this boom is an indirect cause of biodiversity loss, it's nonetheless a habitat loss driver as more land is needed every year for food and other resources, along with urban and industrial development.

Pollution

With increased land clearing and development comes increased pollution on a range of levels. This takes a toll on ecosystems in a myriad of ways: For example, chemical-laden water causes toxic algae blooms; rapidly changing climates make it difficult for many species to adapt; rising ocean temperatures bleach and kill coral reefs; oil spills kill fish, birds and other wildlife; and plastic pollution strangles or slowly kills wildlife that ingest it. Throw in noise pollution, light pollution, acid rain and pesticides, and it's no wonder that many species are experiencing population declines due to decreased breeding and numbers.

Pesticides

Speaking of pesticides, these chemicals are most notably destroying bee populations. While they're not the only reason, pesticides are a direct link. The Center for Food Safety found that some beekeepers have been reporting a complete loss of their colonies in recent years; at the same time, studies are showing a link between declining bee populations and pesticides: neonicotinoids in particular. Not only are these the most common insecticide, but neonicotinoids saturate an entire plant, not just the surface, proving especially toxic to bees. To put this in greater perspective, the United Nations Environment Programme has determined that 71 out of 100 crops are pollinated by bees, and these 100 crop varieties supply 90 percent of the global food supply.

Invasive Species

This category is another contributor to bee loss, but invasive species are increasingly threatening all manner of plant and animal life. Invasive species are non-native plants or animals that have been introduced, either intentionally or by accident, and inflict ecological damage to their new environments as they compete for resources and disrupt an established ecosystem. In fact, invasive species rank just behind habitat loss when it comes to biodiversity threats. A 2019 study revealed that out of 953 extinctions since 1500, more than 400 were attributed to invasive species. For example, simply introducing cats to New Zealand in 1769 led to the downfall of the Stephens Island wren by 1900. In more recent times, Florida has banned 16 invasive species, including popular pet iguanas, as a way to reduce ecological and economic damages.

Wildlife Trade

While some invasive species have been inadvertently introduced throughout the centuries, the billion-dollar illegal wildlife trade is another driver — both for introducing invasive species and biodiversity loss. A 2019 study predicted that the wildlife trade threatens almost 9,000 land species with extinction; this trade is the largest illegal market after drugs and weapons, with pangolin scales and elephant tusks among the market's most popular commodities.

Though not as large of a market, many plant-loving consumers are likely unaware that their latest acquisition could have been sourced via the illegal plant trade.

Hunting

Poaching (illegal hunting) fuels the wildlife trade, but legal hunting is also detrimental to species' survival. During the Trump administration, many hunting regulations were scaled back, such as allowing hunters to shoot and kill bears and wolves in a wildlife refuge, along with their offspring, in their dens. Yet hunting easements aren't limited to administrations. Idaho recently passed a bill giving hunters the greenlight to kill 90 percent of the state's gray wolf population, which would reduce the overall number from around 1,500 to just 150. The endangered threshold is 100.

Overfishing falls into this category as well. Illegal fishing is a common practice, marine sanctuaries have opened up to commercial fishing and large numbers of marine life are getting caught up in fishing nets as unintended bycatch. Consumer demand has caused species such as beluga sturgeon, Atlantic halibut and bluefin tuna to land on the endangered list.

Climate Change

Certainly not least, this vast area encompasses enough issues for a separate discussion. In a nutshell, ever-increasing greenhouse gases are exacerbating the gamut of climate-induced events: rising seas, droughts, floods, wildfires, etc., all of which threaten plant and animal species just as much as they threaten human life.

What's Being Done About It?

M/V Farley Mowat crew member Tomas, pilots a boat at the port of San Felipe, in the Gulf of California, northwestern Mexico, in 2018, as part of the Sea Shepherd Conservation Society's operation "Milagro IV" to save the critically endangered vaquita porpoise. GUILLERMO ARIAS / AFP / Getty Images

Despite the many extinction threats facing species, global and local entities are working to address the problem.

Global Action

The Convention on Biological Diversity formed in 1993 to protect biodiversity, and includes 196 participating nations. In 2010, the group set 20 biodiversity goals to meet by 2020. Unfortunately none of those goals have been met, although six targets were partially achieved, such as conserving protected areas and preventing invasive species. A recent UN report determined that it's not too late for global leaders to take action, but that countries need to focus on sustainability in general, from food systems and oceans to land and infrastructure. The next opportunity for countries to address biodiversity issues will occur in October 2021 in China, when the UN Biodiversity Conference convenes to troubleshoot biodiversity loss.

Biden Administration

U.S. President Joe Biden formally announced a conservation plan in 2021 to protect 30 percent of the country's land and water by 2030. Additionally, under Biden the U.S. has rejoined the Paris Agreement, ended permitting for the Keystone XL pipeline and halted oil leasing in the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge. Other recent biodiversity wins include Biden's plan to restore migratory bird protections, however, protecting gray wolves and monarch butterflies is still under review.

Wildlife Conservation/Tourism

There are numerous wildlife groups devoted to conserving biodiversity; some of the major players include the World Wildlife Fund, The Nature Conservancy, National Wildlife Federation, The Sierra Club, National Audubon Society and the Jane Goodall Institute. Meanwhile, conservation tourism remains a growing area, despite experiencing COVID-19 pandemic setbacks. For example, the African Wildlife Foundation has partnered with the Rwandan government to protect endangered mountain gorillas, resulting in a booming tourism industry. Elsewhere in Africa, wildlife safaris and game drives remain a critical way to bolster local economies while protecting species that are favored by poachers, such as rhinos and elephants. By no means limited to Africa, conservation tourism is helping to boost and/or protect the numbers of giant pandas in China, Bengal tigers in India, polar bears in Canada and giant tortoises in the Galapagos.

Captive Breeding

Zoos and animal facilities around the world have been participating in captive breeding programs since the 1960s, which are meant to increase populations of endangered species. While some programs breed animals that will remain in captivity, particularly zoos, others breed with the intention of introducing endangered species back into the wild. Not all attempts have been successful, but there are positive stories. Take the black-footed ferret, a North American species that was declared extinct in 1979. A captivity breeding program launched after 18 were found a couple years later; today, it's estimated that 301 survive in captivity and another 340 live in the wild. The ferrets are also notable for the fact that they're the first endangered species in the U.S. to be cloned, raising new hope for not just the ferrets, but other endangered species as well — even those that are extinct, such as the passenger pigeon.

Ocean Conservation

While there's overlap with general wildlife conservation groups, an equal number of conservation organizations are dedicated to protecting marine life: Oceana, Ocean Conservancy, Sea Shepherd Conservation Society and The Cousteau Society are among those making a difference by addressing pressing issues that involve, but aren't limited to, overfishing, coral reef bleaching, plastic pollution, commercial whaling and ocean acidification.

What Can We Do?

Greenpeace activists create a burnt smoldering rain-forest with a lifelike animatronic orangutan at the headquarters of Oreo cookies, in protest over their use of palm oil on November 19, 2018 in Uxbridge, England. Chris J Ratcliffe / Getty Images

Luckily, there are ways to make an impact on a smaller scale, and the more people that partake in these efforts, the greater the overall effect will be.

Support Sustainable Products and Food

Where possible, choose sustainably made goods, whether that's organic coffee from producers who eschew pesticides or furniture made from FSC-certified wood. (This designation certifies that the wood was sourced from well-managed forests.) Supporting local, organic farmers is another way to make a difference, along with understanding which types of seafood are more sustainable and being aware of eco-certification labels and what they really mean.

Avoid Palm Oil Products

Palm oil plantations have devastated large swaths of land across Asia, Latin America and Africa, although the majority of this popular vegetable oil is produced in Indonesia and Malaysia. Mass production comes at the expense of endangered species facing habitat loss: the Sumatran elephant, orangutan, rhino and tiger are now among the critically endangered as plantation land expansion continues unchecked. Consumers can fight back by avoiding products made with palm oil; however, this can prove difficult since the ingredient is prevalent in everything from makeup products and laundry detergent to chocolate and soap. Read labels closely, since many items disguise palm oil under other names, or use other names for palm oil derivatives. Vegetable oil, palmate and sodium lauryl sulfate are all clues that a product contains palm oil.

Eat a Plant-Based Diet

Another way to avoid palm oil is by switching to a plant-based diet. But this diet has much larger environmental benefits for biodiversity as it requires far less land usage and reduces reliance on a small number of animal species as a global food source. The world is currently using 80 percent of its agricultural land to raise livestock; consider how much biodiversity could be saved and preserved otherwise.

Become a Citizen Scientist

It's not uncommon for environmental organizations to seek help from average citizens to participate in all manner of projects. Whether it's keeping track of cicadas, searching for penguin eggs or identifying coral reef damage, there are programs around the world that welcome assistance. Even better, it's entirely possible to find projects that can be performed in your own backyard.

Takeaway

The world has reached a critical make-or-break point for preserving a million species at risk for extinction, some within the next few decades. The issue may seem overwhelming, much like climate change, but it's not hopeless. As with anything related to the environment, getting involved at a local level, learning about the current issues and becoming a conscious consumer are good starting points for fighting back against biodiversity loss.

Meredith Rosenberg is a senior editor at EcoWatch. She holds a Master's from the Newmark Graduate School of Journalism in NYC and a B.A. from Temple University in Philadelphia.

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EcoWatch is a community of experts publishing quality, science-based content on environmental issues, causes, and solutions for a healthier planet and life.
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2022 New Jersey Solar Tax Credits, Incentives & Rebates

See what kind of financial incentives are available for Garden State homeowners who go solar.

Reviews
Robert D. Barnes / Getty Images

If you're looking for information about New Jersey solar tax credit and incentive programs, you've come to the right place. According to the latest data from the Energy Information Administration (EIA), electricity prices in New Jersey are about 30% higher than the U.S. average. However, this also means that the kilowatt-hours produced by solar panels will save you about 30% more, and the state offers many financial incentives that improve your return on investment.

The Solar Energy Industries Association (SEIA) reports that by the end of Q2 2021, New Jersey had an installed solar capacity of 3,739 MW, which is enough to meet the electricity needs of over 579,000 homes. The NJ solar industry has already received over $11 billion in total investment, and there are 470 solar companies providing more than 5,300 jobs in the state.

New Jersey gets modest sunshine compared to states like Texas and California, but it has favorable laws and incentives for solar power. This has helped the Garden State become one of the best states for solar in the nation.

In this article, we'll take a look at the full array of New Jersey solar incentives. If you'd like to see right away how much a solar installation would cost for your home, you can use this tool or fill out the form below to get a free, no-obligation quote from a pre-screened New Jersey installer.

New Jersey Solar Tax Credits and Solar Rebates

When you consider New Jersey solar incentives and electricity prices, it's possible to get a solar payback period of less than six years. This is great for an investment that has a service life of 25 years or more and is covered by manufacturer warranties for the majority of that period. The following chart summarizes all the benefits available when going solar in New Jersey:

New Jersey Solar Incentive

Program Overview

New Jersey Net Metering Programs

Net metering is required by law in NJ, which means you get credits for surplus solar energy that gets exported to the grid. These credits can be used to pay power bills.

Transition Renewable Energy Certificates

You earn one TREC for every 1,000 kWh generated by your solar panels, and each TREC sells for $91.20 (as of November 2021).

New Jersey Solar Tax Exemptions

Solar panels are exempt from the 7% sales tax in NJ, and your home value increase after installing solar is exempt from property taxes.

Local Incentives

Additional incentives and low-interest financing programs may be available, depending on where you live in New Jersey.

New Jersey Net Metering Programs

Net metering is a simple concept, and it makes solar power much more valuable for homes. When your solar panels are producing more electricity than what your home is consuming, the difference gets fed back into the grid. Thanks to New Jersey's net metering regulations, electricity providers must give you full retail value credit for surplus solar energy, which gets subtracted from your electric bills.

  • As a quick example, assume your solar panel system produces 1,000 kWh of energy during a month, but you only consume 600 kWh. The other 400 kWh is exported to the grid.
  • Thanks to net metering, you'll receive the full value of that 400 kWh. In states without this benefit, electricity companies decide how to compensate you for surplus solar power, and many of them only give partial credit.

Jersey Central Power & Light (JCP&L) and PSE&G currently have the two largest net metering programs in New Jersey. If there is a month where your solar generation is higher than your electricity consumption, credits are rolled over to the next billing period. Once per year, accumulated credits in your favor are compensated at wholesale price (not retail price) and the balance resets to zero.

Transition Renewable Energy Certificates

In New Jersey, solar panels not only give you power bill savings. You can also accumulate Transition Renewable Energy Certificates based on how much electricity is generated.

  • For every megawatt-hour (1,000 kWh) of solar generation, you get one TREC.
  • Electric utilities and other companies with a legal obligation to support renewable energy will purchase TRECs as part of their compliance efforts.
  • As of November 2021, each TREC sells for $91.20.

If a solar energy system in New Jersey produces over 10,000 kWh per year, you get an additional 10 TRECs. With an electricity tariff of 16 cents/kWh, you would save $1,600 per year. However, you also get $912 for the 10 TRECs, and your total economic benefit is $2,512 per year.

New Jersey Solar Tax Exemptions

There are two main tax incentives for New Jersey homeowners going solar: a property tax exemption and state sales tax exemption.

  • Solar panels are exempt from increased property taxes. If a home has an assessed property value of $400,000, and solar panels increase this to $420,000, the owner will still be taxed on $400,000.
  • Solar panels are exempt from New Jersey's 7% sales tax, which immediately makes them more affordable. For example, if the sales price of your home solar system is $15,000, you're saving $1,050 right away.

Solar Rebates and Other Local Incentives

In addition to the incentive programs described above, additional benefits such as solar rebates may be available in some New Jersey municipalities. Before installing solar panels, make sure you're not missing out on any incentives available in your area.

New Jersey has also enacted laws that enable PACE financing in the state. PACE stands for Property Assessed Clean Energy, and these programs give you low-interest loans for solar panels and other clean energy upgrades. As of the end of 2021, there are a few PACE programs under development in New Jersey, but the options are still limited.

Federal Solar Tax Credit

The 26% federal solar tax credit is a nationwide benefit, and you can combine it with New Jersey solar incentives to improve your ROI. The official name of this incentive is the Investment Tax Credit or ITC. The credit is set to reduce to 22% in 2023 and will not be continued thereafter unless Congress approves an extension.

You can read our federal solar tax credit guide for more information on how this credit works.

Any top solar company will be able to help you identify and apply for financial incentives available in your area. To get connected to a certified installer near you, you can use this tool or fill out the form below.

FAQ: New Jersey Solar Incentives

Is solar really free in NJ?

No, New Jersey doesn't have any official programs that offer free solar panels. However, solar panels can achieve a payback period of fewer than six years in the state, while lasting for 25 years or more. In other words, you have free electricity for many years after recovering your initial investment.

With a low-interest loan, you can go solar for $0 upfront, then use electricity savings to pay off the loan. Strictly speaking, this doesn't make solar panels free, but they are essentially paying for themselves.

Is solar good in New Jersey?

Yes, solar is good in New Jersey. New Jersey has above-average electricity prices and many incentive programs for solar power, and this improves your return on investment when going solar. Although there are sunnier places in the U.S., New Jersey gets enough sunshine to make solar panels cost-effective.

Can you sell power back to the grid in NJ?

Yes, you sell power back to the grid in NJ. New Jersey has one of the best net metering programs in the U.S., where you get full credit for solar electricity that gets exported to the grid. Unused credit can be rolled over to the next month, and you get paid for accumulated credit once per year.

All electricity sent to the grid is credited at retail price, except for accumulated annual credits, which are paid at wholesale prices (the price paid by electricity providers when purchasing energy from power generators).

Leonardo David is an electromechanical engineer, MBA, energy consultant and technical writer. His energy-efficiency and solar consulting experience covers sectors including banking, textile manufacturing, plastics processing, pharmaceutics, education, food processing, fast food, real estate and retail. He has also been writing articles about energy and engineering topics since 2015.
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This picture taken on February 11, 2021 shows a view of Dragon's blood (Dracaena cinnabari) trees at the top of Dixam mountain in the Yemeni Island of Socotra, a site of global importance for biodiversity conservation, located in the northwestern Indian Ocean some 200 kilometers south of the Yemeni mainland. AFP / Getty Images

What Is Biodiversity?

Polar bears, honeybees, mango trees and coral reefs are all examples of the countless animal and insect species, plant life and ecosystems that comprise the planet's vast biodiversity. Every living organism has a role to play in an intricate web of connectedness, no matter the size, and without them, there would be no life on Earth. Removing just one from the chain can send significant ripple effects throughout the system, even if those effects aren't immediately felt. More crucially, every species lost increases the extinction risk to another connected species.

While biodiversity exists wherever there is life, there are some places on Earth that are considered biodiversity hotspots — specific areas that are teeming with native species that can't be found anywhere else in the world, from koalas in Australia to giant pandas in China. There are currently 36 areas that qualify as hotspots, but consider this: While that number comprises only 2.4 percent of the planet, those regions contain almost 43 percent of endemic species. But these hotspots are increasingly threatened by human activity and climate change.

Not only that, but a United Nations Intergovernmental Science-Policy Platform on Biodiversity and Ecosystem Services Report warned that about a million species currently face extinction, and for some it's just a matter of decades. As it stands, a 2018 World Wildlife Fund report shared that the world's vertebrate populations declined an average 60 percent in each category (mammals, birds, fish, reptiles and amphibians) since 1970.

Why Is Biodiversity Important to Ecosystems?

Mangrove roots in Mochima, Venezuela. Humberto Ramirez / Moment / Getty Images

Think of biodiversity as acting behind the scenes of day-to-day life. It's nature's way of providing clean air and water, food, resources (medicine, wood) and even climate protection. Yet consider that only 20 percent of Earth's species — at most — have been identified by science. Swedish botanist Carl Linnaeus began the daunting task in the 1700s, and since that time scientists have estimated that about 8.7 million unknown species exist, although only about 1.2 million species have been identified. Of that number, who knows how many critical ecosystem players have already gone extinct, or are critically endangered, before their role is even clear?

How Do Insects and Animals Impact Us?

It's impossible to discuss this without covering the sixth mass extinction. As the name indicates, there have already been five mass extinction events throughout history, with the last one wiping out the dinosaurs 67 million years ago following an asteroid strike. After each of the prior mass extinctions, which were mainly caused by environmental factors that eliminated as much as 95 percent of existing species, scientists estimated that it took millions more years before biodiversity regained pre-mass extinction numbers.

The difference today is that the current ongoing extinction threat could have been avoided since it's a human-led catastrophe. A recent study from the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences revealed that more than 237,000 populations of 515 species have likely gone extinct since 1900, with many more not far behind; or, 100 times faster in the past 100 years compared to the more normal range of up to 10,000 years for some species. So what does that really mean?

Consequences

Without the proper number of species performing their daily tasks, the everyday aspects of life that we take for granted, including oxygen and a plentiful food supply, will worsen. For example, the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) has listed seven honeybee species as critically endangered. If all of the world's bees were to disappear, there would be few insects left to pollinate certain plants, ultimately affecting global food supply chains and the economy. A recent study found that bees and other insect pollinators contributed 34 billion to the U.S economy in 2012 alone.

While the worst-case scenario has yet to happen regarding bees, the world is still dealing with the very likely connection between biodiversity loss and infectious diseases. Though still unproven, scientists are getting closer to linking habitat loss and the deadly COVID-19 pandemic. Less land increases the likelihood of diseases spreading from animal species, such as bats, to humans. Until habitat loss is properly addressed, experts warn that pandemics will only increase in severity and frequency.

Then there are the financial costs, which are twofold. A UN report found that governments around the world allocated between $78-91 billion a year on biodiversity goals, when in fact hundreds of billions of dollars a year are needed, the report estimated. Without spending more to tackle the issues, biodiversity loss will wind up costing the world up to $140 trillion a year.

Which Species Are Most At Risk?

A Toucan feeds on fruit offered on Aug. 24 2020 at an inn at km 110 of the Transpantaneira highway whose fire consumed everything around along with the wildfires that has already burned more than 16.500 sq. km of the Brazilian Pantanal. Gustavo Basso / NurPhoto / Getty Images

The IUCN Red List identifies which species are most at risk for extinction, including their numbers, direct threats and conservation efforts. The Red List estimates that more than 37,000 known species currently face extinction, including, but not limited to, 41 percent of amphibians, 36 percent of sharks, 33 percent of coral reefs, 26 percent of mammals and 14 percent of birds. The IUCN has categorized species into Not Evaluated, Data Deficient, Least Concern, Near Threatened, Vulnerable, Endangered, Critically Endangered, Extinct in the Wild and Extinct. Among the most critically endangered are Amur leopards, vaquita porpoises, Sumatran rhinos and Cross River gorillas. In some cases, such as the vaquita porpoise, researchers believe less than a dozen exist in the wild.

Many other species, including those in the food chain such as Chilean sea bass and Atlantic bluefin tuna, are being pushed toward extinction thanks to popular consumer demand, which leads to overfishing.

Then there are the species that the world has permanently lost in the last 100 years, from the Tasmanian tiger, which was hunted to extinction (mainly for museum display purposes) to the Pinta giant tortoise, a Galápagos native that was hunted to extinction by the fishing industry. The last known survivor, Lonesome George, passed away in captivity in 2012. In more recent years, the media has been following the world's last two remaining northern white rhinos. Both female, their kind is headed toward extinction, but scientists are attempting IVF using white rhino surrogates in the wild.

Yet the question remains, why are so many species going extinct or are threatened with extinction compared to previous centuries? As with most complex issues, there's no one explanation. Rather, a combination of population growth/overconsumption, the wildlife trade, pesticides, pollution, hunting, deforestation, wildfires, invasive species, big ag and climate change are among the larger culprits.

Habitat Loss

This category poses the largest threat to global biodiversity as rainforests to plains are cleared to make way for agriculture, housing and everything else that comes with modern-day living. Rainforests around the world especially suffered in 2020, having lost 12 percent of tree cover due in part to wildfires. Many of these wildfires in turn are caused by deforestation, with Brazil leading the way under far-right President Jair Bolsonaro to raze this resource for more profitable industries involving cattle and soy. As a result, Brazil's deforestation loss hit a 12-year high in 2020 according to the National Institute for Space Research (INPE). This biodiverse hotspot is now at risk of losing endangered species such as the Amazonian jaguar, hyacinth macaw, pink dolphins and spider monkeys. Other major habitat loss threats throughout the Amazon come from gold mining and logging. Unfortunately, this scale of destruction isn't limited to the Amazon, with habitat loss taking a toll on species everywhere from Nepal and Borneo to China and Africa.

Big Ag

Ironically, the industry responsible for providing the world's food supply is also a major contributor. Industrial agriculture is a main culprit behind habitat loss as increasing amounts of land are converted to feed growing populations. Compounding this is an overreliance on a small number of crops and animals to meet global food supply needs, placing some of these species at risk for extinction.

Population Growth

About 600 million people populated the planet in 1700 compared to 7.7 billion in 2019. Future projections put that number even higher, reaching 10.9 billion by 2021. This massive population boom has taxed Earth's finite resources. While a Population Action International study has concluded that this boom is an indirect cause of biodiversity loss, it's nonetheless a habitat loss driver as more land is needed every year for food and other resources, along with urban and industrial development.

Pollution

With increased land clearing and development comes increased pollution on a range of levels. This takes a toll on ecosystems in a myriad of ways: For example, chemical-laden water causes toxic algae blooms; rapidly changing climates make it difficult for many species to adapt; rising ocean temperatures bleach and kill coral reefs; oil spills kill fish, birds and other wildlife; and plastic pollution strangles or slowly kills wildlife that ingest it. Throw in noise pollution, light pollution, acid rain and pesticides, and it's no wonder that many species are experiencing population declines due to decreased breeding and numbers.

Pesticides

Speaking of pesticides, these chemicals are most notably destroying bee populations. While they're not the only reason, pesticides are a direct link. The Center for Food Safety found that some beekeepers have been reporting a complete loss of their colonies in recent years; at the same time, studies are showing a link between declining bee populations and pesticides: neonicotinoids in particular. Not only are these the most common insecticide, but neonicotinoids saturate an entire plant, not just the surface, proving especially toxic to bees. To put this in greater perspective, the United Nations Environment Programme has determined that 71 out of 100 crops are pollinated by bees, and these 100 crop varieties supply 90 percent of the global food supply.

Invasive Species

This category is another contributor to bee loss, but invasive species are increasingly threatening all manner of plant and animal life. Invasive species are non-native plants or animals that have been introduced, either intentionally or by accident, and inflict ecological damage to their new environments as they compete for resources and disrupt an established ecosystem. In fact, invasive species rank just behind habitat loss when it comes to biodiversity threats. A 2019 study revealed that out of 953 extinctions since 1500, more than 400 were attributed to invasive species. For example, simply introducing cats to New Zealand in 1769 led to the downfall of the Stephens Island wren by 1900. In more recent times, Florida has banned 16 invasive species, including popular pet iguanas, as a way to reduce ecological and economic damages.

Wildlife Trade

While some invasive species have been inadvertently introduced throughout the centuries, the billion-dollar illegal wildlife trade is another driver — both for introducing invasive species and biodiversity loss. A 2019 study predicted that the wildlife trade threatens almost 9,000 land species with extinction; this trade is the largest illegal market after drugs and weapons, with pangolin scales and elephant tusks among the market's most popular commodities.

Though not as large of a market, many plant-loving consumers are likely unaware that their latest acquisition could have been sourced via the illegal plant trade.

Hunting

Poaching (illegal hunting) fuels the wildlife trade, but legal hunting is also detrimental to species' survival. During the Trump administration, many hunting regulations were scaled back, such as allowing hunters to shoot and kill bears and wolves in a wildlife refuge, along with their offspring, in their dens. Yet hunting easements aren't limited to administrations. Idaho recently passed a bill giving hunters the greenlight to kill 90 percent of the state's gray wolf population, which would reduce the overall number from around 1,500 to just 150. The endangered threshold is 100.

Overfishing falls into this category as well. Illegal fishing is a common practice, marine sanctuaries have opened up to commercial fishing and large numbers of marine life are getting caught up in fishing nets as unintended bycatch. Consumer demand has caused species such as beluga sturgeon, Atlantic halibut and bluefin tuna to land on the endangered list.

Climate Change

Certainly not least, this vast area encompasses enough issues for a separate discussion. In a nutshell, ever-increasing greenhouse gases are exacerbating the gamut of climate-induced events: rising seas, droughts, floods, wildfires, etc., all of which threaten plant and animal species just as much as they threaten human life.

What's Being Done About It?

M/V Farley Mowat crew member Tomas, pilots a boat at the port of San Felipe, in the Gulf of California, northwestern Mexico, in 2018, as part of the Sea Shepherd Conservation Society's operation "Milagro IV" to save the critically endangered vaquita porpoise. GUILLERMO ARIAS / AFP / Getty Images

Despite the many extinction threats facing species, global and local entities are working to address the problem.

Global Action

The Convention on Biological Diversity formed in 1993 to protect biodiversity, and includes 196 participating nations. In 2010, the group set 20 biodiversity goals to meet by 2020. Unfortunately none of those goals have been met, although six targets were partially achieved, such as conserving protected areas and preventing invasive species. A recent UN report determined that it's not too late for global leaders to take action, but that countries need to focus on sustainability in general, from food systems and oceans to land and infrastructure. The next opportunity for countries to address biodiversity issues will occur in October 2021 in China, when the UN Biodiversity Conference convenes to troubleshoot biodiversity loss.

Biden Administration

U.S. President Joe Biden formally announced a conservation plan in 2021 to protect 30 percent of the country's land and water by 2030. Additionally, under Biden the U.S. has rejoined the Paris Agreement, ended permitting for the Keystone XL pipeline and halted oil leasing in the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge. Other recent biodiversity wins include Biden's plan to restore migratory bird protections, however, protecting gray wolves and monarch butterflies is still under review.

Wildlife Conservation/Tourism

There are numerous wildlife groups devoted to conserving biodiversity; some of the major players include the World Wildlife Fund, The Nature Conservancy, National Wildlife Federation, The Sierra Club, National Audubon Society and the Jane Goodall Institute. Meanwhile, conservation tourism remains a growing area, despite experiencing COVID-19 pandemic setbacks. For example, the African Wildlife Foundation has partnered with the Rwandan government to protect endangered mountain gorillas, resulting in a booming tourism industry. Elsewhere in Africa, wildlife safaris and game drives remain a critical way to bolster local economies while protecting species that are favored by poachers, such as rhinos and elephants. By no means limited to Africa, conservation tourism is helping to boost and/or protect the numbers of giant pandas in China, Bengal tigers in India, polar bears in Canada and giant tortoises in the Galapagos.

Captive Breeding

Zoos and animal facilities around the world have been participating in captive breeding programs since the 1960s, which are meant to increase populations of endangered species. While some programs breed animals that will remain in captivity, particularly zoos, others breed with the intention of introducing endangered species back into the wild. Not all attempts have been successful, but there are positive stories. Take the black-footed ferret, a North American species that was declared extinct in 1979. A captivity breeding program launched after 18 were found a couple years later; today, it's estimated that 301 survive in captivity and another 340 live in the wild. The ferrets are also notable for the fact that they're the first endangered species in the U.S. to be cloned, raising new hope for not just the ferrets, but other endangered species as well — even those that are extinct, such as the passenger pigeon.

Ocean Conservation

While there's overlap with general wildlife conservation groups, an equal number of conservation organizations are dedicated to protecting marine life: Oceana, Ocean Conservancy, Sea Shepherd Conservation Society and The Cousteau Society are among those making a difference by addressing pressing issues that involve, but aren't limited to, overfishing, coral reef bleaching, plastic pollution, commercial whaling and ocean acidification.

What Can We Do?

Greenpeace activists create a burnt smoldering rain-forest with a lifelike animatronic orangutan at the headquarters of Oreo cookies, in protest over their use of palm oil on November 19, 2018 in Uxbridge, England. Chris J Ratcliffe / Getty Images

Luckily, there are ways to make an impact on a smaller scale, and the more people that partake in these efforts, the greater the overall effect will be.

Support Sustainable Products and Food

Where possible, choose sustainably made goods, whether that's organic coffee from producers who eschew pesticides or furniture made from FSC-certified wood. (This designation certifies that the wood was sourced from well-managed forests.) Supporting local, organic farmers is another way to make a difference, along with understanding which types of seafood are more sustainable and being aware of eco-certification labels and what they really mean.

Avoid Palm Oil Products

Palm oil plantations have devastated large swaths of land across Asia, Latin America and Africa, although the majority of this popular vegetable oil is produced in Indonesia and Malaysia. Mass production comes at the expense of endangered species facing habitat loss: the Sumatran elephant, orangutan, rhino and tiger are now among the critically endangered as plantation land expansion continues unchecked. Consumers can fight back by avoiding products made with palm oil; however, this can prove difficult since the ingredient is prevalent in everything from makeup products and laundry detergent to chocolate and soap. Read labels closely, since many items disguise palm oil under other names, or use other names for palm oil derivatives. Vegetable oil, palmate and sodium lauryl sulfate are all clues that a product contains palm oil.

Eat a Plant-Based Diet

Another way to avoid palm oil is by switching to a plant-based diet. But this diet has much larger environmental benefits for biodiversity as it requires far less land usage and reduces reliance on a small number of animal species as a global food source. The world is currently using 80 percent of its agricultural land to raise livestock; consider how much biodiversity could be saved and preserved otherwise.

Become a Citizen Scientist

It's not uncommon for environmental organizations to seek help from average citizens to participate in all manner of projects. Whether it's keeping track of cicadas,