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The Monmouth County Board of Chosen Freeholders has partnered with a solar power developer to install solar panels at five county locations that will allow the county to reap the environmental and economic benefits of clean energy technology.
“With this agreement, Monmouth County positions itself as a leader in New Jersey for sustainable energy production,” said Freeholder Amy A. Mallet, who spearheaded the initiative on behalf of the county. “The stars are aligned so that the county is getting new roofs, we’re saving $3 million, we’re creating jobs and it’s all being done at no cost to the taxpayers.”
The 15-year Power Purchase Agreements authorized by state law allow the county to contract with a solar energy firm to install and maintain the system. Under the contract, the county will provide the sites and will agree to purchase the electricity generated. Dobco Inc. of Wayne will install, maintain and accept electricity production responsibilities over the 15-year life of the contract.
Solar companies are able to sell power at a discounted rate as a result of regulatory and tax incentives which are currently available in order to buoy alternative energy projects.
The Board of Chosen Freeholders unanimously approved a resolution to enter into a solar power partnership with Dobco at its May 27 meeting.
“Unlike recently implemented solar programs in other counties, Monmouth County will not incur debt to finance or provide guarantee for any part of the project,” Mallet said.
The solar photo-voltaic (PV) systems will be installed at five county locations that are among the highest consumers of electricity. PV systems use canopy and roof mounted solar panels to convert sunlight into electricity. All but the Human Services Complex in Freehold Township will be getting new roofs. At Human Services, solar panels will be installed in the rear parking lot.
All five locations combined will generate about 1.5 megawatts of electricity. They are:
· Hall of Records in Freehold;
· County Courthouse in Freehold;
· John L. Montgomery Care Center in Freehold Township;
· Human Services Complex in Freehold Township, and
· Library Headquarters in Manalapan.
The county is expected to save $144,000 dollars in fiscal year 2011 and $2.5 million over the course of the 15-year agreement. Adding the $600,000 value of the new roofs brings the total value to more than $3 million.
The county’s solar initiative comes less than two years after the Board of Chosen Freeholders created a Greenhouse Gas Reduction Committee, which conducted an energy audit of county buildings that indicated where the PV systems should be installed. Freeholder John D’Amico credited the Greenhouse Gas Reduction Committee with paving the way for the county’s solar projects.
“This is an innovative program, and it puts Monmouth County on the forefront in taking advantage of energy credits that New Jersey permits,” said D’Amico, who has advocated for federal legislation to supply funding for energy reduction projects. “New Jersey is second to California in solar energy.”
With this contract, Monmouth County becomes a state leader in its efforts to create clean, renewable, sustainable energy, Mallet said.
“The catastrophe which is occurring in the Gulf of Mexico is undeniable proof that we need to find real alternatives to the industrialization of our precious natural resources,” Mallet said. “Clean and renewable energy is the direction we all need to take. This bold effort demonstrates that Monmouth County is serious about seeking alternative fuel sources and protecting the environment.”
By completing these PV projects, the reductions in greenhouse gas emissions will be equivalent to:
· 1,286 metric tons of coal per year;
· 246 passenger vehicles per year;
· 144,655 gallons of gasoline per year;
· 2,991 barrels of oil per year;
· annual electricity usage of 167 homes per year, or
· 32,976 tree seedlings grown for 10 years.
The county is in the planning stages now for additional phases of implementation at other county facilities and properties.
“This is an excellent beginning,” Freeholder Director Lillian G. Burry said.