The NJEDA is currently accepting applications for this program. Please complete the Eligibility Self-Assessment below to determine your preliminary eligibility for this program, or email A Clean Energy Officer will reach out to you to schedule an initial consultation.

NJ CELs is an $80 million co-lending program launched by the New Jersey Economic Development Authority (NJEDA) for small businesses seeking to finance clean energy projects. The program’s funds come from the U.S. Treasury’s State Small Business Credit Initiative (SSBCI).   

The NJEDA will lend between $250,000 and $10 million for projects requesting a total loan amount of $500,000 to $20 million.  

NJ CELs will unlock capital for small businesses and start-ups, catalyze the deployment of clean energy in New Jersey, and support minority-, woman-, and veteran-owned businesses to participate in the State’s energy transition.  

Eligibility Self-Assessment

The Eligibility Self-Assessment can walk you through the basic eligibility criteria for NJ CELs.  

Eligibility Requirements

Borrowers: To be eligible, an applicant must:

  • Have fewer than 750 employees, including employees of its affiliates
  • Be in good standing with the New Jersey Department of Labor and Workforce Development (LWD) and NJ Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) 
  • Have a valid tax clearance certificate no older than 180 days at time of approval for financing 
  • Be located in New Jersey (see Key Definitions tab below) 
  • Be seeking to finance a clean energy project (see Key Definitions tab below) 
  • Use a clean energy technology that has already been demonstrated in the US or internationally 
  • Be economically feasible  
  • Be requesting a loan of $500,000 to $20 million for the project in total (NJEDA and private financing)  
  • Be requesting 50% or less of the total loan amount from the NJEDA ($250,000-$10 million) 
  • Not be enrolled in any other state SSBCI program; and 
  • Have a term sheet, letter of intent, draft agreement, commitment letter, or similar document from an eligible financial institution.  

If an applicant meets all of the eligibility criteria, they must also score a minimum of 50 out of 100 points in order to qualify for NJ CELs (see Scoring Criteria Tab).  

Financial institutions are eligible if they:  

  • Are included in the NJEDA Premier Lender list or NJEDA’s CDFI Premier Lender list; or  
  • Are a private equity fund, bank, pension fund, insurance company, hedge fund, mezzanine fund, original equipment manufacturer (OEM), developer, family office, specialty finance company, or such other entity that has originated, maintained, and serviced more than $5 million in clean energy loans over a three-year period.  

Scoring Criteria

If an applicant meets the eligibility criteria, they must also score 50 points or above (out of 100) based on the scoring criteria below.  

Applicants should use this table to estimate their score prior to applying for NJ CELs.  
Please refer to the Key Definitions tab below for a definition of full-time equivalent (FTE).


Scoring Criteria 

Point Allocations 

Total per Category 

Direct jobs forecast to be created, relative to dollar amount of total loan for the Project (NJEDA + financial institution) **

**This criterion is based on the estimated number of jobs that will be created at the end of the project. Applicants will be asked to justify this estimate by completing a “Projected Jobs Log” at the time of application.  

1 Full-Time Equivalent (FTE) per $100,000 or less 



1 FTE per $100,001-$125,000 


1 FTE per $125,001-$150,000 


1 FTE per over $150,000 


100% of jobs forecasted are in NJ 


Strength of management team and partnering entities 

Has experience with the clean energy technology in this proposed project ** 

**Any experience with the clean energy technology will be awarded the full number of points. Examples of experience with past projects will be required.  



Applicant organization has 2 or more C-level executives


Benefits to Overburdened Communities (see Key Definitions) 

Reduction or avoidance of criteria pollutants in an overburdened community **  

**Applicants will be required to justify how the Project will lead to reducing/avoiding pollutants, including which criteria pollutant(s) and where the reduction/avoidance will take place. Supporting documentation or references/hyperlinks are requested. See FAQ document for more information. 



50% or more of new jobs forecasted are created in an overburdened community** 

 **As detailed in the Projected Jobs Log, which must be completed at the time of application. 


Reduction in energy costs for individuals or businesses in an overburdened community ** 

**Applicants will be required to justify how the Project will reduce energy costs, including where the reduction will take place. Supporting documentation or references/hyperlinks are requested.  


NJ Certified Minority-, Woman-, or Veteran-owned business 

Minority-, Woman-, or Veteran-Owned business (New Jersey certification required at time of application) 



Number of Full Time Equivalent (FTE) employees at time of application **

**Applicants will be required to complete a Current Employee Log as part of the application, to verify the number of employees.  

100 or fewer FTE employees 



101 - 200 FTE employees 


201 - 300 FTE employees 


301 - 400 FTE employees 


401 - 500 FTE employees 


501 or more FTE employees 


Total loan amount (from NJEDA and financial institutions) requested for the project 

$1M or less 



$1,000,001 - $2M 


$2,000,001 - $3M 


$3,000,001 - $4M 


$4,000,001 - $5M 


Greater than $5M 


Ratio of private dollars to NJEDA dollars in the total loan amount requested for the project (at time of application)

6:1 or greater 



5:1 - 6:1 


4:1 - 5:1 


3:1 - 4:1 


2:1 - 3:1 


1:1 - 2:1 




Loan Terms

The NJEDA will only finance up to 50% of the overall loan amount for a project. At least half of the total loan for the project must be financed by one or more private lenders. 

NJEDA loan terms:  

  • Between $250,000 and $10 million (for projects with a total loan amount of $500,000-$20 million) 
  • For terms between 1 and 25 years  
  • Interest rate: 3% below the private lender’s rate 
  • Secured, but subordinate to the private lender in collateral.  

Special terms: Minority-, woman-, or veteran-owned businesses (New Jersey certification required), as well as businesses whose projects are located in an overburdened community (see Key Definitions), are eligible for:  

  • Additional 1% interest rate reduction each; and 
  • 10% loan forgiveness, if the project results in at least 1 job being created per $100,000. 

State Small Business Credit Initiative

This NJEDA Program is funded by the federal State Small Business Credit Initiative (SSBCI). The SSBCI funds small business credit support and investment programs developed by state, territory, and Tribal governments in order to empower small businesses to access capital needed to invest in job-creating opportunities. The funds also support the promotion of American entrepreneurship and strive to democratize capital access across the country with a focus on very small businesses with fewer than 10 employees and businesses owned by socially and economically disadvantaged individuals.

With SSBCI participation and funding, this NJEDA program must meet strict guidelines of compliance for program requirements, application approval, and ongoing monitoring. Without exceptions, any business applying to this program must provide complete and accurate application submissions, and if approved, the business will also be required to maintain complete and accurate reporting which must be submitted to the NJEDA within the program specified timelines. Misrepresentation, omissions, or deviations from program requirements or reporting may subject a business to repayment of any benefits as well as incur penalties.

For more information on SSBCI program rules and materials, please click this link.


  • Application fee: non-refundable $1,000 fee for applying to the program
  • Commitment fee: non-refundable fee of 0.875% of the loan amount paid prior to NJEDA issuing a commitment letter
  • Closing fee: 0.875% of the loan amount (non-refundable) paid at time of closing

Clean Energy:

Clean energy technologies include solar power, onshore and offshore wind, electric battery storage, fuel-cell-based storage, carbon capture technologies, non-combustion waste-to- energy technologies, wave energy, water use minimization technologies, carbon-reducing materials, nuclear energy, heat pumps and geothermal, run of river hydroelectric, and other innovative recycling technologies and processes. Clean energy also includes firms that manufacture either finished or interim advanced technologies or components. 

Excluded from this industry are: distribution or transmission utilities, conventional landfill operations, combustion-based waste-to-energy projects, and natural gas projects. 

Clean Energy Project:

In order to be eligible for NJ CELs, the project proposed must be a clean energy project, such as: 

  • A clean energy infrastructure project (for example, solar-plus-energy storage distributed energy resource projects); 
  • Installing and/or purchasing clean energy improvements at a small business’s existing facility, (for example, upgrading to high efficiency boilers at a business’s factory or purchasing a zero-emission medium or heavy-duty electric vehicle (ZEMHDV); 
  • The creation or expansion of a small business that manufactures clean energy products or their integral components for sale (for example, a manufacturer of electric vehicle batteries or their components); or 
  • The creation or expansion of a small business that offers clean energy services (or product sales and service) in the marketplace (for example, a small business that improves building envelopes through the installation of more energy efficient insulation, windows, and other envelope components).  

Employee (for eligibility):  

In determining the number of employees for NJ CELs eligibility, all individuals employed on a full-time, part-time, or other basis are counted. Part-time and temporary employees are counted the same as full-time employees. This includes employees obtained from a temporary employee agency, professional employee organization or leasing concern. Volunteers (i.e., individuals who receive no compensation, including no in-kind compensation, for work performed) are not considered employees. 

For example, if a business has one part-time (10-hrs/week), one temporary (520 hours/year), and one full-time employee, this business has 3 employees.  

Full-Time Equivalent Employees (FTE):

  • One full-time employee with a minimum of 40 hours of work per week, or a combined number of 40 part-time and seasonal employee hours per week. NOTE: The definition of full-time equivalent (FTE) is different from the definition of employees above. This is the definition used in the NJ CELs Scoring Criteria. 
  • For example, if a business has 100 employees working full-time (week of 40 hours) and 50 employees working 20 hours per week, the total number of FTEs would be 125.
  • For seasonal employees, the FTE count is based on a 2,080-hour year, so that an employee who works 520 hours per year counts as 0.25 FTEs.
  • A business’s total number of full-time equivalent employees includes the business’s full-time equivalent employees (FTEs) as well as the FTEs of its affiliates, rounded to the nearest whole number.

Located in New Jersey:  

  • For infrastructure or installation projects at an existing facility, activities must be physically located in New Jersey. 
  • For all other projects, the applicant must have a physical location in New Jersey (office or co-location facility) and have a minimum of 50% of full-time employees working in New Jersey. 

Overburdened Community:  

An Overburdened Community (OBC), as defined by the law, is any census block group, as determined in accordance with the most recent United States Census, in which: 

  • at least 35 percent of the households qualify as low-income households (at or below twice the poverty threshold as determined by the United States Census Bureau); 
  • at least 40 percent of the residents identify as minority or as members of a State recognized tribal community; or 
  • at least 40 percent of the households have limited English proficiency (without an adult that speaks English “very well” according to the United States Census Bureau). 

Click here for a list of NJ Overburdened Communities


Informational Webinar



If you want to be included in future outreach or have questions, contact us at  

If you are a financial institution interested in learning more about NJ CELs, please submit the Expression of Interest Form to be contacted by an NJEDA representative.