Two new developments last week and one this week may boost efforts to site renewable energy production facilities on brownfield and contaminated properties.
On July 23, Gov. Chris Christie of New Jersey signed legislation (S. 1925) that speeds up the state’s renewable energy portfolio standard, increasing the percentage of energy production that utilities must obtain from solar generators and strengthening the market for NJ solar renewable energy credits (SRECs), which had dropped to a very low price because of oversupply. The new law allows for virtual net metering aggregation by specified governmental end users, including school districts. This will improve the economics of solar power for these entities and increase their ability to move forward on solar installations.
The legislation is also significant to those who are following programs that create incentives to promote the placement of solar energy projects on brownfields, closed landfills, and former dump sites for various types of waste. Under the provisions of S. 1925, these projects will not require approval by the NJ Board of Public Utilities and will offer liability protection against the cost of cleaning up a site contaminated by a previous owner or tenant.
In separate developments, on July 25, U.S. EPA’s RE-Powering America’s Land Initiative released a new fact sheet that provides examples of the advantages of locating renewable energy projects on potentially contaminated lands, landfills, and mine sites. EPA’s letter to Stakeholders included a list of the Agency’s “RE-Powering Rapid Response Team,” which includes designated contacts in each region who are prepared to offer assistance.
On July 31, EPA released for comment a draft “Best Practices for Siting Solar Photovoltaics on Municipal Solid Waste Landfills”. The document focuses on technical issues and contains best practices drawn from examining successful projects. Comments should be submitted to email@example.com by Aug. 31, 2012. More information is available on EPA’s RE-Powering America’s Land website.