NEW JERSEY STRONG INNOVATION – New Jersey Sierra Club reports 6.12.2019 – Today, Six Flags Great Adventure will hold a ribbon cutting ceremony for their new solar farm in Jackson, NJ. This plan includes conditions of the court settlement between Six Flags/KDC Solar and environmental groups including the New Jersey Sierra Club. Besides the 40 acres of solar farm, the rest of the solar panels will go on developed parking lot. This ceremony is on the same week that the draft EMP is released.

“Today is an important day for promoting solar energy in Jackson Township and New Jersey. We are glad that this project is finally a reality after the original problems with it. When you fight a project, you can come together with a compromise. Now we can go forward with a much-lessened impact than the original proposal: only 40 acres removed rather than close to 100 acres. The conditions of the compromise were necessary because building a solar farm should be a positive for the environment and should not cause environmental damage in the process,” said Jeff Tittel, Director of the New Jersey Sierra Club. “This is a nice event to have, especially with the release of the BPU’s draft Energy Master Plan this past week.”

The original plan would have been devastating to the environment and included clearing almost 100 acres of forest in the Pines. The settlement conditions also include creating dens for the state endangered Northern Pine Snake that may be disturbed or relocate on their own because of this clear-cutting. There will also be a $25,000 endowment for the holders of the conservation easements to monitor the land.

“Six flags will get a solar farm while we get to preserve forested lands, everyone wins today.  New Jersey could have the first amusement park in the country powered by solar power. This project is an example of what New Jersey should be doing more of. New Jersey has the demand for solar, but our market is on the brink of crashing while solar jobs have dropped by 10%. We used to be dealing with 40 MW a month and now we have dropped to 25 MW a month,” said Tittel.

In the EMP, BPU want to accelerate deployment of renewable energy and distributed energy resources in their EMP. These include exploring regulatory authority to achieve 100% clean energy by 2050, begin stakeholder engagement to explore rules to limit CO2 emissions from Electric Generating Units.

“We are concerned that the EMP is also too pro natural gas and too pro nuclear. It failed to mention the impact of natural gas, especially the 8 proposed natural gas pipelines and 5 power plants. Without a moratorium on new fossil fuel projects, we cannot get to 100% renewable by 2050 or reduce GHG’s,” said Tittel. Nuclear is not renewable and more dangerous and expensive compared to renewables. BPU consider nuclear clean energy when it is not. Ratepayers will be paying $300 million a year for a subsidy to buy 40 percent of our power from nuclear, stopping us from reaching the goal of 100 percent renewable energy.”

Targets to improve New Jersey’s solar market were not in the EMP. An OLS report says that in 2020 the cost of our RPS will exceed the cap by $280 million. This means the BPU will set aside the Renewable Portfolio Standard for that year. This leaves no room for New Jersey to move forward to meet targets of the Renewable Portfolio Standard (50% by 2030).   

“Six flags will get a solar farm while we get to preserve forested lands, everyone wins today.  New Jersey could have the first amusement park in the country powered by solar power. This project is an example of what New Jersey should be doing more of. New Jersey has the demand for solar, but our market is on the brink of crashing while solar jobs have dropped by 10%. We used to be dealing with 40 MW a month and now we have dropped to 25 MW a month. The solar market may crash this year and our SRECs are about ready to run out. The plan doesn’t really address that and the EMP needs to fix it.” said Tittel.

NJBPU will host public meetings to collect feedback and comments from key stakeholders on the Draft EMP. Comments are due to NJBPU by September 16, and the meeting dates are as follows: July 17 – Trenton (State House), August 8 – Newark (Seton Hall), September 12 – Camden (Kroc Center) The final Energy Master Plan is proposed to be implemented by December of 2019.

“As we celebrate today’s ribbon cutting for Six Flags solar farm, New Jersey should be working to make sure we have many more events like this. New Jersey has fallen behind other states when it comes to clean energy and clean energy jobs. What’s even worse is that the EMP does not have targets to fix the solar program, get rid of the cost cap, or have targets for community solar. If we want to achieve Governor Murphy’s goal of 100% renewable by 2050 and reduce GHG’s, New Jersey needs to be doing more to strengthen and promote solar energy in our state,” said Jeff Tittel, Director of the New Jersey Sierra Club.