For more than 30 years, the L&D Landfill in Burlington County lay dormant – 200 acres of barren open space. Today, that land is home to a 54-acre solar farm that generates enough electricity to power 2,000 homes a year.
In the mid-1800s, the Hackensack Gas Works burned coal to power the street lights in one of New Jersey’s oldest cities. Today, the 150-year-old industrial brownfield site is productive again, generating more than a megawatt of carbon-free solar energy.
Transforming landfills and brownfields into new green sites for the generation of electricity is a key component of Gov. Chris Christie’s Energy Master Plan and we have stepped up to the plate to do our part.
PSE&G’s Solar 4 All® program has built 45 MWs worth of grid-connected solar farms on New Jersey landfills and brownfields in one of the largest efforts of its kind in the United States. Our track record makes clear that we are uniquely suited to manage the costs, greater complexity, longer development timelines and other risks in order to successfully build these projects.
At PSE&G, we’re proud of our investment in Solar 4 All – which totals more than $550 million over the past seven years. This investment has provided a substantial boost to New Jersey’s growing solar industry, resulting in a surge in new green energy and hundreds of new jobs.
And we would like to do more. That’s why, today, PSE&G filed a proposal with the New Jersey Board of Public Utilities that, if approved, would allow the utility to build another 100 MWs worth of solar projects on these kinds of underutilized and forgotten spaces – nearly tripling the size of the Solar 4 All landfill and brownfield effort.
As with its past efforts, PSE&G’s new application seeks to turn old, underused sites into new sources of solar energy.
New Jersey’s history as a densely populated industrial center has, unfortunately, left a challenging environmental legacy: More than 17,000 old industrial properties, many of them abandoned and some of them contaminated. By building large-scale solar installations on these underused – and sometimes otherwise unusable – sites, we’re not just finding productive new roles for old landfills and relics. By focusing on this pipeline of properties and locations, we are helping the state meet its renewable energy goals while helping preserve agricultural and open spaces where, in many other states, solar farms increasingly are being built.
When PSE&G builds a new solar farm, it’s about more than putting unused real estate to better use. It’s also about putting historically “dirty” sites back to work for the good of the environment and the climate. Our proposed 100 MW of new solar energy will provide enough clean electricity to power more than 16,000 homes and cut approximately 58,000 tons of carbon emissions each year – the equivalent of taking 11,000 cars off the road.
And these solar systems feed renewable, carbon-free solar energy into the electrical grid, truly providing the benefits of solar to all of PSE&G’s customers. This is important in a state where everyone pays for solar subsidies but only a fraction can have their own solar systems. (It is estimated that more than 75 percent of New Jersey residents cannot access their own solar – their roofs point in the wrong the direction, there are too many trees, they live in an apartment or they simply cannot afford to buy a system.)
While transforming landfills and brownfields into green generators is a big win for the environment, it’s also a win for New Jersey’s economy. Since 2009, PSE&G’s Solar 4 All program has created hundreds of jobs in a wide range of skills and trades, including electricians, engineers, carpenters and laborers.
With the BPU’s approval, our latest effort will create another 575 new, direct jobs.
PSE&G is a national leader in landfill and brownfield solar development. Across New Jersey, we have returned 170 acres of landfills and brownfields to productive use, installing more than 150,000 solar panels at eight solar farms. And we have identified dozens more that are prime candidates for new solar systems.
With the BPU’s support, we will be able to breathe new life into many of New Jersey’s old forgotten spaces – and in the process, provide a source of clean, affordable electricity that benefits the environment, the economy and all of our customers.
For an additional perspective on landfill solar in New Jersey, visit http://www.northjersey.com/opinion/opinion-editorials/going-solar-1.1588162
Courtney McCormick – VP Renewables and Energy Solutions, PSE&G