By: Henry T. Chou, Esq.

The Pinelands Commission has approved a solar farm project on top of a closed landfill in Stafford Township. Recognizing the benefits of the solar farm and its consistency with the goals of the Pinelands Master Plan, the Commission granted a waiver from the conservation easement requiring the former landfill to be maintained as open space.

The solar farm, which will consist of 24,624 solar panels to be set in 1,026 arrays on top of the 1.6-acre capped landfill, will generate approximately six megawatts of DC power.

Like other solar farm developers, the Walters Group was attracted to New Jersey’s innovative solar-renewable energy certificate program, where energy companies generating power from non-renewable energy sources purchase certificates from producers of renewable energy to offset carbon emissions and avoid fines associated with carbon emissions.

The certificates, which are traded on the open market, currently sell for $400-$500. It is estimated that the solar farm will generate approximately 5,000-6,000 certificates per year, which means that in addition to the energy it sells, the developer can make up to an additional $3 million in certificate sales.