Despite being called the Garden State, New Jersey is usually associated with Superfund sites (there are 112 here, the most of any US state). So I was pleased to discover that New Jersey is second in solar capacity in the US, only behind my native state of California.
But just to remind me that we’re not living in the Golden State, I also learned that a number of New Jerseyans in well-populated and well-endowed Bergen County are complaining about newly-installed solar panels because they’re “ugly” and (horrors) could lower their property values.
Reports the New York Times:
The solar installations, the first and most extensive of their kind in the country, are part of a $515 million investment in solar projects by PSE&G under a state mandate that by 2021 power providers get 23 percent of their electricity from renewable sources. If they were laid out in a solar farm, the 5-by-2.5-foot panels would blanket 170 acres.
Though nearly halfway finished, the company’s crews have encountered some fresh resistance in Bergen County, where cities, villages and boroughs are in varying stages of mortification. Local officials have forced a temporary halt in many towns as they seek assurances that they will not be liable in case of injury, but also to buy time for suggesting alternative sites — like dumps — to spare their tree-lined streets.
And here in Oradell, at least one panel has gone missing.
…In neighboring Ridgewood, Deputy Mayor Thomas M. Riche said constituents had called, sent e-mails and stopped him on the street demanding that he halt the encroaching blight. Ridgewood, an affluent village of about 24,000, got PSE&G to cease installations after only a few had been put up, over concerns that they would interfere with the emergency communications boxes on the poles.
New Jersey’s largest utility, the Public Service Electric and Gas Company, is mounting 200,000 individual panels in neighborhoods, in three-quarters of the state. But in a place as densely populated as New Jersey, it’s impossible to “dodge and weave dodge and weave residential areas” in putting up the panels.
Governor Chris Christie has asked for the panels to be re-evaluated. One of his spokesmen says that “the mandates that spawned the panel project [were] ‘extremely aggressive.’”
In other words, looks like New Jersey may not be #2 on that “most solar states” for long.
Photo of solar panels (in Australia) by mikecogh