Work Begins On Berkeley Township Solar Farm

Heavy machinery is preparing the ground for an eventual solar field. (Photo by Chris Lundy/CS Solar)

  BERKELEY – Today, it looks pretty barren. Just dunes of dirt that stretch farther back into the woods than you could ever imagine. Before that, though, it was even worse – it was a landfill. It’s the future, however, that’s looking bright.

  The township’s municipal landfill hasn’t been used in quite some time but it was never properly capped. Now, a company is going to come in, cap the landfill, and build a solar field over it.

  To give a sense of the enormity of the project, this is an approximately 40 acre site. It’s behind the Public Works building on Pinewald-Keswick Road in Bayville. You can’t see it from the road so you wouldn’t know just how expansive it is back there. It looks like a desert somehow surrounded by pines. Right now, heavy vehicles are moving the dirt and getting the site ready.

  The landfill closed about 50 years ago in 1974, Mayor Carmen Amato said. But it was never properly capped because the process costs millions.

  “That’s why past administrations – both Republican and Democrat – kicked the can down the road,” he said.

Photo by Chris Lundy/CS Solar

  Today, however, there are more private-public partnerships, where a company does the work and then both share in the profits. One of them is the statewide Community Solar Energy Pilot Program initiated by Governor Phil Murphy in 2018 and finalized by the Board of Public Utilities in 2019. This paved the way for a project such as this.

  “I’m very appreciative of the (State Department of Environmental Protection) and the Pinelands Commission for helping the township get through the bureaucratic red tape to do this,” Amato said.

  By providing less expensive electricity, residents are predicted to save about $6.4 million over the 20-year life of the project, according to township figures.

  “We are thrilled to have partnered with CS Energy and Luminace to close this landfill at no cost to our taxpayers and residents while also offering more affordable and cleaner sources of energy to our community,” Amato said.

  “I want to thank our employees from Teamsters Local 97 who spent weeks preparing the site for the work to begin,” he said. He also thanked representatives from IBEW Local 400,  Operating Engineers Local 825, local 172 and local 182 for attending the groundbreaking and being part of this project. “I’m pleased to know the work on-site will be done by highly qualified, trained and dedicated union workers.”

  “To properly cap a landfill, at no cost to the taxpayers and at the same time install 10 megawatts of green energy and generate revenue for the township, is truly a win-win situation for Berkeley Township,” Council President John Bacchione said.

  “Given CS Energy’s market-leading experience as a developer and EPC contractor on landfill solar projects, coupled with their community solar experience and significant footprint in the Northeast, we are proud to collaborate with CS Energy once again as they successfully develop this landmark project,” said Brendon Quinlivan, CEO Luminace. “CS Energy and Luminace have a longstanding relationship and strong execution track record over the last decade, and we are pleased to partner with CS Energy again to enable affordable clean energy to local residents as well as a long-term asset to the local community.”

  “The effective pursuit of the State’s twin climate and clean energy goals requires creativity, partnership, and commitment… this landfill solar redevelopment project, which transforms a longstanding environmental liability into an asset that delivers significant and direct benefits to its host community, continues to demonstrate we – together – can achieve environmental and economic success while advancing our critical mission,” said Sean Moriarty, Deputy Commissioner.

  “We are excited to once again be working alongside Luminace on this first-of-its-kind project,” said John Ervin, VP of Development at CS Energy. “Our deep experience in the region, and on landfill solar projects specifically, enabled our team to successfully lead the development and design of this highly complex project while working closely with regulators. We look forward to completing the construction of this project and delivering a high-quality solar system and significant energy savings to residents.”