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The Role of Distributed Energy Resources in New Jersey’s Clean Energy Transition

A clean energy transformation is underway in New Jersey. Led by Governor Phil Murphy, the Garden State will finalize its 2019 Energy Master Plan, which aims to achieve 100% clean energy by 2050.

This paper concludes that distributed energy resources (DER) can and must play a key role in realizing the goal of 100% clean energy for New Jersey. DER can provide new services to utilities and customers, and also complement large-scale renewable energy resources. DER include small renewable generators such as distributed solar, storage, energy efficiency, demand response, and electric vehicles.



Key Recommendations:

  1. INTEGRATE DER 

    Give distribution companies and DER providers the responsibility to integrate distributed resources through the following: interconnection reform, valued based compensation mechanisms, advanced inverter functionality and targeted incentives to extend the environmental and economic benefits of DER to all of New Jersey’s citizens. These efforts should be led by the New Jersey Board of Public Utilities working with relevant distribution companies and conducted in consultation with contributing and impacted stakeholders. 

  2. EMBRACE ELECTRIFICATION OF BUILDINGS AND TRANSPORTATION 

    Encourage strategic electrification of buildings and transportation to reduce emissions. This will improve air quality throughout the region, make energy more affordable for customers, and increase customer satisfaction. If done right, the State of New Jersey can accomplish all of this without increasing costs to customers. 

  3. ENSURE AN EQUITY LENS IN PLANNING 

    In order to achieve Governor Murphy’s Energy Master Plan to empower all underserved communities, Holistic Grid Planning must be inclusive and maintain an economic equity lens to fully benefit all of New Jersey’s communities.  

  4. HOLISTIC GRID PLANNING 

    Conduct Holistic Grid Planning to assess different portfolios of bulk renewable and distributed energy resources that are capable of meeting New Jersey’s 100% carbon free goal. The New Jersey Board of Public Utilities should lead this planning and work with relevant state agencies, distribution companies, and consult with contributing and impacted stakeholders. New Jersey’s underserved communities should be prioritized throughout this planning process.


New report provides four recommendations to ensure distributed energy is an integral part of New Jersey’s transition to clean energy.

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about the authors:

Gridworks: Gridworks’ mission is to convene, educate and empower stakeholders working to decarbonize electricity grids.

GridLab: GridLab provides technical grid expertise to enhance policy decision-making and to ensure a rapid transition to a reliable, cost effective, and low carbon future.

Center for Renewables Integration: Working with state policy makers to support the development of effective energy policy which enables high percentage of renewable generation, while maintaining reliability, at the lowest cost.


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DERs have a critical role to play as New Jersey drafts its Energy Master Plan for 100% clean energy by 2050. Not only do DERs such as advanced metering, rooftop solar, energy efficiency, and electric vehicles empower customers to reduce climate pollution and energy usage, they are also an important tool in grid planning and non-wire alternatives.
— Eric Miller, NJ Energy Policy Director, Natural Resources Defense Council
Millions of smart batteries living inside our cars, trucks and buses will sit on the edge of our grid, giving and taking electricity. Kudos to the authors of this important report that understand and highlight that in this way the electrification of transportation will play a significant role in transforming our energy systems to a low carbon future.
— Pamela Frank, CEO of ChargEVC
I commend Governor Murphy’s vision in his 2019 Energy Master Plan, and am optimistic that the findings from this report will help ensure that New Jersey embraces DER as a way to gain resilience, reduce peak energy demand, and help customers save money on their utility bills.
— Ric O'Connell, GridLabs Executive Director
If New Jersey is smart about how it integrates DER, it can save ratepayers money and provide resilience. Use of distributed resources like solar, wind, battery storage and smart inverters, can make a big difference if New Jersey gets hit by another Sandy.
— Jeanne Fox, CRI Board Member and former BPU Chairwoman
Trying to reach New Jersey’s clean energy goals with only bulk renewables is like trying to clap with one hand. Distributed energy resources complete the equation.
— Matthew Tisdale, GridWorks Executive Director
As Governor Murphy leads a transition to a clean energy future, there is an incredible opportunity to empower New Jersey residents to be part of the solution. By embracing distributed energy resources, like home solar and batteries, New Jersey can deliver direct benefits to communities and residents through lower bills, cleaner air and more reliable energy.
— Anne Hoskins, Chief Policy Officer, Sunrun
The Role of Distributed Energy Resources in New Jersey’s Clean Energy Transition is an important reminder that local distributed resources can and should play a huge role in decarbonizing the grid. By successfully integrating local distributed resources like residential and community solar and storage, states like New Jersey can improve resiliency, avoid over-building the transmission system, and generate in-state jobs and economic benefits all while cutting emissions.
— Ilan W. Gutherz, VP of Policy & Strategy Borrego Solar
Rooftop solar should be at the cornerstone of our energy system. This report from Gridworks, GridLab, and the Center of Renewables Integration provides a clear roadmap for how New Jersey gets there. Governor Murphy and the Legislature must take these recommendations seriously and include them in New Jersey’s Energy Master Plan.
— Anya Schoolman, Executive Director, Solar United Neighbors
This paper outlines a clear path forward for distributed energy resources and will enable the New Jersey solar economy to thrive. Alongside these best practices, we’ll need smart federal tax policies and a smooth transition to a new incentive program to continue New Jersey’s leadership on clean energy. We’re committed to engaging with the Board of Public Utilities and our partners on these short-term policy priorities as we work to promote certainty in the New Jersey solar market.
— Abigail Ross Hopper, president and CEO at the Solar Energy Industries Association
DER will play a critical role in helping New Jersey achieve 100% carbon free energy, and this paper offers excellent guidance for maximizing the benefits of DER on the grid. Community solar is poised to play a leading role as an eminently scalable distributed energy resource that can offer access to clean energy for all. We look forward to working with all DER providers and key decision makers in New Jersey to ensure community solar is largely included into the distributed energy resource mix that is currently being planned.
— Jeff Cramer, Executive Director of the Coalition for Community Solar Access (CCSA)
This report not only highlights the benefits of Community Solar to consumers who don’t otherwise have hassle-free access to solar, but it underscores that Community Solar deployment at a much larger scale than is currently contemplated is a minimum requirement for meeting New Jersey’s ambitious clean energy goals. Policy makers will need to take these findings into consideration as they look to match higher and higher renewable standards with a concrete execution plan to get there because the status quo does not currently do that.
— Drew Warshaw, VP of Community Solar at Clearway Energy Group