Thursday, September 29, 2011

NJ Turns State-Owned Landfill Into Solar Farm

Furthering the Christie Administration’s commitment to ensure a sound and responsible energy future for New Jersey that stimulates the economy and protects the environment, Acting Governor Kim Guadagno today toured the Hudson County worksite of the first solar farm constructed on a State-owned landfill. The New Jersey Meadowlands Commission’s (NJMC) 1A Landfill Solar Project in Kearny will provide up to 3 MW of clean power and enhances New Jersey’s stature as a national leader in solar energy production.

“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," said Acting Governor Guadagno. "Further, 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 7th most aggressive renewable portfolio standard in the nation at 22.5 percent.”

The $18 million solar project, which is clearly visible from the nearby New Jersey Turnpike, is a tangible example of the state’s growing status as a national leader in solar energy production. This month, New Jersey surpassed California as the country’s largest commercial solar market. In fact, 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 first quarter 2010. From June through August, more than 70 MW of additional capacity were installed. As of August 31, New Jersey has 11,245 solar energy array projects installed across the state providing over 430 MW of installed capacity.

The 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 December 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. The utility will then own, operate and maintain the facility as part of its Solar 4 All™ program.

Edison-based SunDurance develops designs, builds and operates megawatt-scale solar power solutions for commercial, industrial, government and utility-scale markets. SunDurance is part of the Conti Group, a nationwide leader in renewable energy projects.

The Meadowlands Commission is a regional leader in the production and promotion of renewable energy. Through its Municipal Solar Assistance Program the NJMC coordinated the formation of a solar power purchasing cooperative between the Borough of Little Ferry and the Town of Secaucus that aims to save the towns hundreds of thousands of dollars in energy costs. In October the NJMC will commence construction on a solar canopy over its administration building parking lot that will generate approximately 20 percent of the electricity needs of the Commission’s headquarters.

“The New Jersey Meadowlands Commission 1A Solar Landfill Project demonstrates the Christie Administration’s steadfast commitment to protecting the environment, promoting economic development and making New Jersey more affordable for taxpayers and businesses,” said Lori Grifa, who is Chairman of the NJMC and Commissioner of the Department of Community Affairs. “The Commission is proud to contribute to the Administration’s efforts to increase renewable energy production and make New Jersey an even more economically and environmentally inviting place to live.”

The Christie Administration has a proven record of commitment to securing the environmental and economic benefits of renewable energy in New Jersey. In addition to solar, the wind power movement is providing New Jersey with a unique opportunity to advance green energy as industry. New Jersey also is leveraging the state's tremendous resources with innovative technologies, enabling the state to increase its use of renewable energy sources while successfully attracting a range of companies here to advance an industry cluster that will create new jobs.

“This Administration is leading by example for the entire country when it comes to pursuing smart, effective and realistic renewable energy policies,” said Marcia Karrow, Executive Director of the NJMC. “The NJMC’s solar initiatives play an important part in boosting the economy by providing jobs for renewable energy companies while protecting and enhancing the region’s unique urban ecosystem.”

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