October 11, 2017

Solar Array at Old Landfill Is Finally Ready to Open

By Anne Levin

Six years after it was first proposed, a 3-megawatt solar array is about to open at the closed municipal landfill on River Road. Officials will gather Thursday morning, October 12 at 11 a.m., for the ribbon cutting.

The project is a partnership between Princeton, Stony Brook Regional Sewage Authority, and New Jersey Resources Clean Energy Ventures. It will supply up to 25 percent of the energy needs of the Stony Brook sewage facility on River Road. The municipality will receive a lease payment of $25,000 a year for the use of the site.

“It’s a very unique project involving the municipality, a regional authority, and the private sector that reduces the cost of the energy required for operation of the sewage processing plant, and provides an annual stream of revenue to the municipality in the form of rent for an otherwise unusable, closed municipal dump,” said Councilman Bernie Miller, in an email. Miller was instrumental in getting the project started by convincing the former Borough and Township to put up the initial $15,000, and then encouraging the consolidated Princeton to stay with it when the market for new solar projects suffered during the recession.

The initiative has been in the works since 2011 when the former Borough and Township created the original power purchasing agreement. It was put on the back burner a year later because of a decline in solar renewable energy credits, known as SRECs.

In 2015, the consolidated Princeton Council put the project out to bid, and GeoPeak Energy was the successful bidder. But the value of SRECs was falling again, and the project was once again put on hold. It was continued once the value of SRECs increased. New Jersey Resources Clean Energy Ventures is building the 8,000-panel solar array, and will operate and maintain it. The power purchase agreement is for 15 years.

“It’s the municipality’s first and only solar project, and a clear win for the town,” said Miller.