BERKELEY – Officials brought residents up to date on a municipal solar project after a Silver Ridge Park West resident asked for more information during a Township Council meeting.
“It is progressing, but not as quickly as we’d like,” Mayor Carmen Amato said. Part of the slower speed has been the pandemic, and part of it has been the lengthy regulatory process.
The plan is to outfit the township’s closed landfill with solar panels which would generate discounted electricity for interested residents and revenue for Berkeley. The landfill is located behind the Public Works building on Pinewald-Keswick Road in Bayville.
In June of 2021, Hathaway Solar, LLC was chosen as the highest responsible bidder, so they won the contract to bring Berkeley into the statewide Community Solar Energy Pilot Program (CSP).
The regulatory process might take another six months, Township Planner James Oris said.
“Once all the pieces of the puzzle are solved, Hathaway will do public relations to get residents to sign on for a discount,” he said.
According to Oris, Hathaway Solar will produce electricity through the solar panels which will feed into the region’s electric grid. Residents can opt in to the program to get the solar energy. The default is being opted out.
If a resident chooses to join with Hathaway, they would only pay them for the cost of electricity. The cost of maintaining the wires and other infrastructure would still be Jersey Central Power and Light, Oris said. Despite this, you would only pay one bill.
As the awarded bidder, Hathaway Solar will be responsible for all costs associated with the project, so taxpayers will not be charged with any related costs.
The CSP was established in 2019 by the New Jersey Board of Public Utilities after Governor Phil Murphy singed a bill in 2018 mandating the creation of the program.
The new solar program is estimated to earn Berkeley $400,000 a year, Amato said. Additionally, Hathaway would pay for capping the landfill. The landfill is currently topped with dirt.