SOUTH BRUNSWICK – A once operational landfill in South Brunswick will now convert solar energy as a renewable resource.
After five years of construction, 40,000 solar panels will now add solar energy back into the energy grid through a net metered project at the New Jersey Resources (NJR) Clean Energy Ventures (CEV) Solar Array at 175 New Road, South Brunswick.
The energy will be shared among customers of electric provider PJM across parts of 13 states.
As an analogy, the grid is a swimming pool, the solar panels add water to the pool, and the electric users pull energy from the pool, according to Michael Kinney of NJR.
“I’m happy you’ve made that investment in our town,” Mayor Charlie Carley said during the unveiling ceremony on July 17. “It puts a lot of energy back into the grid – clean energy.”
Mike Valori, vice president of NJR CEV, said the 13-megawatt solar array is owned, operated and maintained by CEV, and marks the completion of its 34th commercial solar project in the state. Because NJR is a private entity, taxpayers were not responsible for the $20 million project, nor will they see energy savings, he said.
Citing a project which turned a brownfield site into green energy, Valori said, “Those 40,000-plus panels produce enough energy to supply power to 1,300 homes.”
Valori said the project will offset 14,000 tons of carbon dioxide, the equivalent of pulling 2,700 cars off the road.
“Projects like this are helping make New Jersey a leader in renewable energy,” he said. “Together, we’re helping make a more sustainable future for South Brunswick, a more sustainable future for New Jersey and a more sustainable future for us all.”
Loan Mansy, Northeast area president of Republic Services, which is a leader in the nation’s recycling and non-hazardous solid waste industry, said, “As you look at the site today you can see we’ve made a significant investment to preserve the surrounding community.”
She said landfills offer a great opportunity to provide renewable energy, produce electricity and reduce greenhouse gas emissions.
“These solar panels each harness and convert the sunshine of this Garden State to renewable energy all year long,” she said.
Walter Mugdan, Region 2 deputy regional administrator for the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), said the South Brunswick landfill is a Superfund site, and was one of the earliest to be put on the list of 1,750 sites nationally after the act was passed in December 1980. The landfill collected municipal refuse and chemical waste from 1959-79. In 1982, there was a consent order to remediate the property, which was completed by 1985.
The landfill was capped to block rain, a slurry wall ensures contaminated water cannot escape, and the treatment plant that was used on site for water is no longer necessary because contaminant levels are so low, he said.
The EPA, the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers and Republic Services continue to monitor the site, he said.
“The EPA very, very strongly supports the reuse of Superfund sites like this,” Mudgan said, noting that a golf course is another popular repurpose of a landfill.
Other such sites operated by NJR include facilities at the Stony Brook Regional Sewage Authority in Princeton, and the former McGraw-Hill property in East Windsor.
Also of note, there were 200 union jobs used in the construction of the project through Miller Bros. Construction.