In several of my recent posts
I have reported on the progress that renewable energy and its proponents are making in New Jersey. Companies have begun preparing designs for offshore wind farms and the state has responded by passing a renewable energy tax credit that will encourage the construction of offshore wind farms. The state and several counties have implemented solar energy programs designed to stimulate development and implementation of solar energy.
The public and private efforts to make clean energy happen in New Jersey have resulted in private equity firms pouring billions of dollars into different renewable energy projects. It seems that clean, renewable energy is becoming more and more a big part of the state's future. It also seems that each week when I look at New Jersey's environmental news, I find a new and interesting renewable energy-oriented project taking place someplace in New Jersey.
This time, it's happening in Montgomery Township, a little town in Central Jersey that's part of Somerset County. Recently, Somerset County announced the Somerset County Renewable Energy Initiative
, an initiative of the Somerset County Improvement Authority. According to the county, the program "is a $500,000 initiative that will be offered to all municipalities, public school districts, and local authorities within Somerset County and will consist of having renewable energy sources, such as solar panels, installed on buildings or grounds identified by each respective participating entity."
The county envisions using this tool as a way to help New Jersey meet its goal of 20 percent renewable energy by 2020. Participation in the program will not cost towns any money, and the program is also tax-neutral.
On Thursday, July 15, Montgomery Township officials approved participation in the county's Renewable Energy Program. According to Matt Fair of the Star Ledger, the township, through the initiative, "seeks to install solar arrays
on the roofs of the Otto Kaufman Community Center, Montgomery High School, Upper Middle School and Orchard Hill Elementary School."
According to Montgomery officials, the solar installations are estimated/expected to produce over 1,400 kilowatts of energy. To more fully understand the energy capacity, consider this: one kilowatt
can power a medium window-unit AC for one hour. The point is, these solar panels are going to be able to put a major dent in Montgomery Township's energy bills.
Township officials are ecstatic about the new opportunity this renewable program provides. "The advantage that we get is that the power generated by these panels is introduced into the power grid and allows us to, in essence, sell back power to the power company so it reduced our energy costs," said Donato Nieman, the township's administrator.
The county expects big things from this renewable initiative. According to county spokeswoman Linda VanZandt, "participants in the program can expect to see a 20 to 35 percent reduction in their annual energy costs, depending on the size of the installation and other factors."
VanZandt also noted that the county has not yet selected a developer for the program, something that will have to wait, pending the approvals of all participating municipalities. Official participants, other than Montgomery, currently include Bound Brook, Bridgewater, Franklin and Manville.