Public Service Electric and Gas Co. (PSE&G), an energy utility for the New Jersey area, received approval from state regulators to begin offering $105 million in loans to help finance the installation of solar systems on homes, businesses and municipal buildings throughout its electric service area. The funding will provide a source of stable, secure capital to spur additional investment in solar energy.

Initially, the program will be available only to nonresidential customers. PSE&G needs approval from the New Jersey Department of Banking and Insurance to provide direct loans to residential customers. There also are plans to review residential loan documents with a group of stakeholders before the program is offered to residential customers.

Filed with the New Jersey Board of Public Utilities (BPU) last April, the proposal was the first of a number of new plans the company announced during 2007.

PSE&G’s solar program addresses the goals put forth by the state through the Energy Master Plan process and by the BPU through the renewable portfolio standard (RPS). Both call for the ability to meet 20 percent of the state’s energy needs with renewable energy by the year 2020.

The program will support the development of 30 megawatts of solar power, designed to fulfill about 50 percent of the RPS requirements in PSE&G’s service area for the energy years 2009 and 2010. That’s enough electricity to power 24,000 homes and, in terms of CO2 emissions, is the equivalent of removing about 3,700 cars from the road.