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Solar panel array planned for closed landfill in Egg Harbor Township

Published at: Jan 9, 2012
source: pressofAtlanticCity
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A 11.3 MW solar installation is being developed on a closed landfill in Egg Harbor, NJ. The project will consist of 42,000 solar panels and will begin construction once financing and approval from the state Department of Environmental Protection have been finalized.

EGG HARBOR TOWNSHIP - Seashore Solar Inc., a private investor development company with an office in Pleasantville, is planning a 42,000 solar panel array on a closed landfill off Atlantic Avenue here.

The proposed 11.3-megawatt facility would generate clean electricity the company will sell wholesale back to the power grid through Norristown, Pa.-based PJM, which coordinates the movement of electricity for regional utilities.

The project would also generate solar energy credits, which are sold on the open market and purchased by power companies through a state law promoting renewable energy.

John Egnor, general manager of Seashore Solar, said the company still faces some hurdles before it can begin construction.

The group, including Egnor and partner Matt Feinstone, still needs to secure financing and is awaiting approval from the state Department of Environmental Protection to use the 48-acre landfill, he said.

The company received site-plan approval from the Egg Harbor Township Planning Board in September. It still needs construction permits, said Egnor, an Atlantic City native now living in Texas.

Egnor did not disclose the cost but called it "a significant investment."

The landfill, which is also called the Handson Avenue Landfill, is in an industrial zone. Chain-link fence and barbed wire surround the vacant land about a half-mile off Fire Road. It is owned by Brigantine-based Delilah Road Associates. Egnor said Seashore Solar has a 15-year lease agreement with two five-year extensions, as well as a purchase option for the landfill.

"We're taking an opportunity out there and acting upon it," Egnor said. "We had the foresight to look at that site and stay on the head of the curve and make the right moves. We spent over two years developing the site and project."

The company hopes to start construction in April. The project will take nine to 15 months to complete, he said.

Egnor estimates construction will create about 200 local jobs during that time. California-based SPI Solar was awarded the construction contract.

DEP spokesman Larry Ragonese said the state agency is reviewing the Egg Harbor Township application, which is needed because the work will disrupt some of the cover of the landfill.

"If all is as it looks, we would expect to issue this shortly," he said.

One of the unknowns in the business plan is the value of the Solar Renewable Energy Credits the array will generate.

The market in New Jersey fluctuated wildly last year, dropping by almost two thirds amid increased commercial and residential solar production. The value of the credits, which are subsidized by utility customers, has stabilized from that drop - now worth about $230 for every 1,000 kilowatts.

New Jersey has been considering requiring utilities to purchase more, which would increase their value.

Egnor said the company doesn't expect values to be as high as their peak - when they reached more than $600 each - but he does expect the market to strengthen and demand to be strong.

Seashore Solar previously was the subcontractor for another large-scale solar project in the township.

The company worked on a four-megawatt solar array for Marina Energy, a subsidiary of Folsom-based South Jersey Industries, to power Pleasantville Middle School and Pleasantville High School.

That project includes about 17,000 panels and can generate about 5 million kilowatt hours per year, said Ted Pettinelli, project manager for Marina Energy, which owns and operates the system. The middle school's part of the project went online last year; the high school's is planned to be running in February, he said.

 

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