Solar farm on state-owned landfill

KEARNY – The state today touted the first solar energy farm constructed on a state-owned landfill.

Acting Gov. Kim Guadagno toured the New Jersey Meadowlands Commission’s 1A Landfill Solar Project in Kearny that is designed to provide up to 3 megawatts of power.

“Tapping underused resources such as closed landfills to produce renewable solar energy and related employment is a key component of this Administration’s forward-thinking agenda to secure New Jersey’s energy and economic future. Projects such as this represent a fulfillment of Governor Christie’s campaign promise to increase the use of landfills and brownfields for solar projects that also foster job creation,” Guadagno said in a release.

The issue of solar power has been a controversial one between environmentalists and the administration.

The Christie administration in its Energy Master Plan reduced the state’s stated goals for renewable energy from 30 percent to what it said was a more realistic 22.5 percent.

Environmentalists, however, maintain the 22.5 percent goal is easily achievable and the state has no reason not to shoot for the higher goal.

But Guadagno today supported the administration’s approach.

“The Christie administration’s draft Energy Master Plan lays out a clear and realistic path to a sustainable energy future that promotes economic growth and job creation, protects our environment, and maintains the seventh most aggressive renewable portfolio standard in the nation at 22.5 percent,” she said.

Earlier this month, New Jersey passed California as the nation’s largest commercial solar market, she said.

New Jersey’s commercial solar market jumped 170 percent from the first quarter of this year to the second quarter, according to the Solar Energy Industries Association. New Jersey’s solar installations now account for 24 percent of all such arrays in the U.S. – up from 15 percent at the end of March, the association reported.

In addition, New Jersey installed 42 MW of solar in the first quarter of 2011, representing 49 percent growth over the first quarter of 2010. From June through August, more than 70 MW of additional capacity were installed. As of Aug. 31, New Jersey has 11,245 solar energy array projects installed across the state providing over 430 MW of installed capacity.

However, the crashing prices of SRECS, the solar renewable energy credits, were the cause of concern at a recent Board of Public Utilities hearing. Installers and others warned that if something is not done to address the problem of SREC over-supply, New Jersey’s progress as a solar energy leader could be jeopardized.

In Kearny, the $18 million NJMC’s grid-connected solar installation will include 12,506 solar panels mounted on 13 acres atop the 1A landfill and will go online by Dec. 31. The NJMC in June leased the 13 acres to SunDurance Energy, which is constructing the solar array. PSE&G is expected to purchase the solar farm just prior to its completion and take over the lease from SunDurance, Guadagno reported. The utility will then own, operate and maintain the facility.

Solar farm on state-owned landfill