Extra Space Storage
Neptune, N.J. | 500 kW (6.5 MW across 10 sites)
Solar Landscape won the Project of the Year award for Community Solar last year as well, and that’s no fluke. Solar Landscape itself is a pre-eminent community solar installer, but some of those props are due in part to its state. New Jersey’s community solar program might be the best in the nation in terms of incentivizing deals like this that grab people’s attention.
Extra Space Storage is a self-storage real estate investment trust (REIT) and management company that has been installing solar on its self-storage facilities for more than a decade. In 2021 alone, the company invested $17.7 million in solar projects. Currently, 53 percent of Extra Space-owned facilities have solar panels installed onsite.
“With our ESG efforts, we’re always looking for projects where it’s a win for everyone involved,” says McKall Morris, communications and sustainability manager with Extra Space Storage. “And when we look at community solar, it’s a win across the board.”
But self-storage sites do not require much PV to cover their needs. “A typical building with no climate control, you need 10 to 15 percent of the roof for office space and lighting,” says Shaun Keegan, CEO of Solar Landscape. Meaning a ton of perfect rooftop space is leftover, ready to serve some sort of purpose.
“Wide open rooftops, generally not a lot of climate control, low load and low profile buildings,” Keegan rattles off. “They are in more urban populations, so there is a higher probability of interconnection.”
And with Extra Space’s history installing PV already, the incentives of the New Jersey community solar program — which encourage the commercial real estate sector to install PV panels on their entire roof, not just the portion that covers the building’s energy needs — made Solar Landscape’s pitch a no-brainer.
Extra space, indeed
New Jersey’s Community Solar program is the first to use a competitive scoring application to ensure projects are constructed in a timely manner and with community involvement. It was also the first to ensure that more than half of electricity generated would go to low- and moderate-income households.
Through the N.J. program, the national self-storage company dedicated the rooftops of 10 of its locations in New Jersey to solar projects that are novel in several ways. The first installation in the portfolio — The Community Solar Project of the Year you see here in Neptune, N.J. — is a 500-kW system that will generate 6.5 MWdc for the grid to power 1,400 low- to moderate-income homes in the surrounding neighborhoods.
Consider the possibilities from here. Extra Space owns or operates more than 2,300 self-storage properties nationwide. The company’s properties comprise approximately 1.6 million units and 175 million sq ft of rentable space.
Then there is the rest of the expanding self-storage market. More than 3,300 self-storage facilities have been built since 2010, according to CoStar, and the industry continues to grow year after year.
Is this a model we can see replicated, or is New Jersey special? Keegan says this model is “already expanding to other states.”
“It comes down to program design,” he tells us. “It is cheaper to put solar in a field than on a rooftop, but it’s better for the grid to have it sited where the people are. And with the LMI requirements in New Jersey, you’re seeing other states follow … California, New York, Illinois, Minnesota, New Mexico, Maryland … these programs are all coming up with some sort of LMI carveout. Plus, with the LMI adder in the IRA, we think the trend will continue.”
Soon, Solar Landscape will need its own Extra Space unit for all these Project of the Year trophies.