BERKELEY – The Township’s closed landfill will be outfitted with solar panels, generating discounted electricity for interested residents and revenue for Berkeley.
At last September’s Township Council meeting, Berkeley went out to bid on an energy company to install a solar farm atop the landfill, which has been capped with dirt.
At the Township Council meeting in June, Mayor Carmen Amato announced Hathaway Solar, LLC as the highest responsible bidder to award the contract to, pushing Berkeley’s role in the statewide Community Solar Energy Pilot Program (CSP) forward.
It is estimated to earn Berkeley $400,000 a year, Amato said. Additionally, Hathaway would pay for capping the landfill.
According to Township Planner James Oris, once CSP officially launches, Hathaway Solar will produce electricity through the solar panels and insert it into the region’s electric grid. The company will then “advertise and solicit [to] ratepayers that want to buy electricity.”
“Everyone’s out until you opt in,” Oris explained.
In order to participate in Berkeley’s solar energy program, property owners will have to explicitly opt-in to utilize the energy when the option is presented to them. Upon which, participating property owners will be sent bills associated with the solar energy they utilize.
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 solar panel program will not officially launch for several months. According to Oris, Berkeley is “actively pursuing” permits from New Jersey Pinelands Commission and New Jersey Department of Environmental Protection.
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.
Berkeley’s solar panel project must also meet other requirements before it takes flight, such as accomplishing all necessary support work associated with the project.
The landfill is located behind the Public Works building on Pinewald-Keswick Road in Bayville.
-Chris Lundy contributed to this story