South Jersey leads clean-energy charge

April 8, 2009

As reported in NJ Biz Written by Shankar P

Vineland and Ocean City are implementing ambitious programs to attract investments in renewable energy, particularly solar power, and their city administrations are leading by example. Investors from across the world are showing interest in their projects, according to municipal officials in both cities.

New Jersey has the second-biggest solar energy program in the country, according to Mark Sinclair, executive director of the Montpelier, Vt.-based Clean Energy States Alliance, an organization of 20 states with renewable energy programs.

Vineland is the state’s only city with its own electricity-generating plant, but the 100-megawatt facility uses coal and oil as fuels, and needs replacement, said James Lelli, the city’s director of economic development. The city plans to replace the plant with one operating on solar power, and also build a 60-megawatt natural gas generator, financed by a $60 million bond issue, by 2012.

Five companies have shown interest in building a solar panel farm to supply the city’s needs, including one from China, Lelli said. The city is negotiating with some of the interested parties, and expects to make an announcement soon. Power generated at the plant would be sold to the regional grid, he said.

One of the proposals is to build a 50-megawatt solar panel farm at a cost of some $150 million, Lelli said. About 300 acres would be needed to generate that much power; the city already has earmarked 100 acres for the farm and a 100,000-square-foot plant building, he said. All that land would cost the prospective investor $4.5 million at the prevailing market rate of $45,000 an acre, he added.

Vineland has kept the site shovel ready, with utility infrastructure and an industrial zoning status, Lelli said. He expects to have a deal by the year’s end, and the solar farm up and running nine months afterward.

Vineland also last week signed a deal with utility company Conectiv to build a 4-megawatt solar farm in the city, Lelli said.

Ocean City, another old hand at implementing green projects, is also exploring a plan to band together business owners who might want to install solar panels on their premises. Together, they would be able to justify the investment in solar panels that might otherwise not be feasible, said Jim Rutala, Ocean City’s business administrator.

Rutala said over the past month, the city has been in talks with several businesses about solar energy plans, and that Nicholas Asselta, commissioner of the state Board of Public Utilities, is helping in the process.

Ocean City, in fact, has one of the state’s largest municipal solar energy projects, Rutala said. In February, it completed an ambitious project to install 1,800 panels on five city-owned buildings, providing 550,000 kilowatt-hours. It plans to extend panel installation to another half-dozen buildings, he added.

The city chose Entech Solar Inc., of Fort Worth, Texas, through a competitive bidding process to install the required infrastructure, he added. The solar project deal allowed Ocean City to lower its energy costs as Entech earns a return on its investment, Rutala said; the city sells leftover power to the regional grid.

The deal also allows the city to purchase its power at a concessional price of 4 cents per kilowatt-hour, said Jim Bryan, commercial and municipal markets manager at Entech in its Ewing offices. That price could go down to as low as 2.5 cents after factoring in the value of tradable renewable energy certificates the city gets, he said. The prevailing price of such electricity would be between 12 and 18 cents a kilowatt-hour, he said.

Entech makes its money in the turnkey construction of the solar energy project, and was helped by a $1.5 million BPU rebate, Bryan said. But New Jersey now is moving away from rebates, to a more market-based mechanism to power such projects.

Our Perspective:

This is a big step. We have clients in Vineland and I have read the story about this proposed conversion.

This makes perfect sense. Solar is a true Clean Energy Alternative that can help support Vineland’s Municipal Utility sustainability.

Should you like to know more about the proper financial structure needed for these initiatives, you may call 856-857-1230 or email george@hbsadvantage.com.

We will show you how to properly structure the deal and take advantage of all the Federal and State initives that will lower your ROI.

HBS….Tomorrow’s Clean Energy…Today!

2 Responses to “South Jersey leads clean-energy charge”

  1. Sherry said

    There could be no better investment in America than to invest in America becoming energy independent! We need to utilize everything in out power to reduce our dependence on foreign oil including using our own natural resources. Create cheap clean energy, new badly needed green jobs and reduce our dependence on foreign oil.The high cost of fuel this past year seriously damaged our economy and society. The cost of fuel effects every facet of consumer goods from production to shipping costs. It costs the equivalent of 60 cents per gallon to charge and drive an electric car. If all gasoline cars, trucks, and SUV’s instead had plug-in electric drive trains the amount of electricity needed to replace gasoline is about equal to the estimated wind energy potential of the state of North Dakota.We have so much available to us such as wind and solar. Let’s spend some of those bail out billions and get busy harnessing this energy. Create cheap clean energy, badly needed new jobs and reduce our dependence on foreign oil. What a win-win situation that would be for our nation at large! There is a really good new book out by Jeff Wilson called The Manhattan Project of 2009 Energy Independence Now. http://www.themanhattanprojectof2009.com

  2. […] ghutch placed an observative post today on South Jersey leads clean-energy charge « $$$ Smart Solutions $$$Here’s a quick excerptNew Jersey has the second-biggest solar energy program in the country, according to Mark Sinclair, executive director of the Montpelier, Vt.-based Clean Energy States Alliance, an organization of 20 states with renewable energy programs … […]

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