Thanks for the Support: “Solar Farms in New Jersey Can Help Light the World, Preserve the Planet”

April 24th, 2012

As we approach our conceivably  last meeting in front of the zoning board in Hamilton Township tonight, which holds the destiny of the Black Solar Farm in Hamilton Square, Mercer County, we love to see the support from those who have been there in the town meetings from the beginning and sat through those seemingly endless nights of abuse over the proposed solar farm and what everyone would prefer to see done with Barry Black’s land, other than what he wants to do with it.

Trenton Times

Opinion: Solar farms in New Jersey can help light the world, preserve the planet
Published: Saturday, April 14, 2012, 6:20 AM

By Brian D. Haig

As financial troubles are casting long shadows across the state, New Jerseyans have little time for less immediate concerns. However, we must look toward the environmental future of our state.

There in an ongoing debate in Hamilton Township over a use variance request for 60 acres of what used to be farmland in the township’s Rural Resource Conservation Zone.

BKB Properties has proposed a sustainable plan to build 42,000 solar panels and housing on the property. While critics cite unsightliness, land loss and soil degradation, they fail to truly consider the benefits.

The issue of unsightliness is moot. BKB Properties plans to surround the site with fencing and landscaping that would hide the panels.

As for land loss, it is important to remember that this land is currently unused. Although it may once have been farmland, it has not been cultivated for some time.

While some may not consider the proposed solar farm ideal, it is far more productive than the land’s current state. What’s more, no other uses seem to have been proposed for it.

The fear of soil degradation is largely supported by speculation from experts who, while knowledgeable, admit that soil degradation is merely a possibility — one that other professionals have determined to be unlikely. The developers have said they will make efforts to preserve the soil’s fertility. One such plan is to cultivate low-lying crops under portions of the panels, which will help to keep the soil rich. With the opposition’s arguments adequately addressed, it is important to now look at the benefits.

Most of Hamilton’s energy is provided by PSE&G’s Mercer Station, which generates power by burning coal, gas and oil. The resulting emissions contain toxic particulate matter that contaminates the air we breathe and eventually even enters the water we drink. Also of great concern is the emission of greenhouse gases, which contribute to global warming. The extent of the dangers posed by the emissions from PSE&G’s Mercer Station are made clear when we consider that, according to, the power plant is Mercer County’s leading source of pollution. In addition, the coal, gas and oil that are burned are non-renewable fossil fuels; they do not regenerate.

The proposed solar facility would be able to provide energy to 2,000 homes, using a renewable resource that has no adverse environmental impacts. And although the energy produced would not be able to replace the energy provided by PSE&G entirely, it would certainly decrease the amount of energy needed from burning fossil fuels.
We should also take note that only a portion of the 60 acres in question is intended to be used for the solar farm. BKB Properties plans to donate a segment of the property to a charity that will use it to build homes for disabled veterans returning from war.

The benefits of granting BKB Properties’ use variance request go beyond environmental preservation and supporting our wounded warriors. Additional benefits would be felt at the local level.

Building the facility would temporarily provide jobs for local construction workers and landscapers. This economic boost would help struggling families who rely on development for their living. And for the township, the facility would provide $70,000 in taxes annually. While this is not an impressive amount, it is certainly more than the land currently yields.

By allowing the construction of BKB Properties’ proposed solar farm, Hamilton residents would be taking one more step toward a sustainable lifestyle. The town might even inspire other parts of the county, the state or even the country to follow suit.

Even in these times of financial hardship, it is imperative that we work toward a better future, not only for our own state, but for the world. It is, therefore, only logical that development of the proposed Hamilton solar farm be allowed. The benefits will be felt at a local level immediately. And with time, the facility will play a small role in the struggle to preserve our global environment. The solar farm would provide Hamilton with sustainable energy from a renewable source and provide New Jersey with an example of an environmentally responsible township.

Leave a Reply