Work to Begin on 100-Acre Solar Farm in Tinton Falls

October 28th, 2011

Touted as one of the largest solar fams in the Northeast, work on the 100-acre clean energy project in Tinton Falls along Shafto Road will begin in earnest on Friday with a ground breaking ceremony.

The $80 million privately-funded project can be accessed at Tormee Drive, and will boast 85,000 ground mounted panels that will generate 19.88 mega watts, according to a release from the borough.

“This large-scale solar farm will provide needed jobs and be a boost to the local economy that has been devastated by the closure of Fort Monmouth, while helping this country meet its energy demands for the 21st century,” said Tinton Falls Mayor Michael Skudera.

The entire project is estimated to take approximately eight months, with the anticipated completion date of May 2012.

Tinton Falls Solar Farm, LLC, a subsidiary of Zongyi Solar America Co. Ltd., purchased the property from Clean Jersey Solar for $5.55 million, or $57,000 per acre, according to the CoStar Group Web site.

The borough’s zoning board approved the application in November 2010, with the site subdivided into the solar farm and a non-age restricted townhome development. One of the original proposals for the site was to develop 243 single family units and 61 affordable units with over 1,100 bedrooms. The scaled-down application had 248 two-bedroom units.

The ceremony will begin at 11 a.m. at 99 Tormee Drive and feature Sen. Jennifer Beck, Monmouth County Freeholder Lillian Burry, Skudera and other borough and local officials. Friday’s groundbreaking will also feature representatives from Tinton Falls Solar Farm, LLC, including its CEO, Eddie Zeng.

“This project combines with capital investment, advanced technology and equipment, an experienced engineering and construction team, and strong support from the local community. I am confident that it will not only create many local jobs and stimulate the economy; it will also set the standard for future ventures in the field of solar energy in New Jersey,” said Zeng.

The energy generated from this site could power the equivalent of nearly 3,000 homes, which are about two-thirds of the total households in Tinton Falls.  It is estimated that this solar farm will offsets carbon emissions equivalent to nearly 4,000 acres of trees, according to the release.

http://holmdel.patch.com/articles/groundbreaking-ceremony-for-solar-farm-in-tinton-falls-on-friday#photo-8246468

Tinton Falls Groundbreaking Ceremony

October 24th, 2011

This upcoming Friday, October 28th, 2011, we celebrate the Groundbreaking of the Tinton Falls Solar Farm.  The Tinton Falls Solar Farm is one of the largest solar projects in New Jersey at 19.8 MW utilizing 97 acres and 85,000 panels which will produce enough clean energy to power 2,665 homes, approximately 60% of Tinton Falls. Additionally, this 19.8 MW system will sequester over 20,000 tons of carbon annually, equivalent to almost 4,000 acres of trees.

We are fortunate for the opportunity to invest in the state of New Jersey, employ the local community and improve the overall economy while producing good clean energy for us all.  Without the support of certain government officials and the diligent persistence of our entire engineering and construction team, Triad Consulting Engineers and Unity International Group, none of this would be possible.

We look forward to sharing this upcoming event to all who join us and support this initiative during an unprecedented time in the solar energy environment in New Jersey.  If you have not received an invite to the Groundbreaking Ceremony but would like to join us, please email:  office@RagerEnergy.com for availability and more information.

Solar Farm Approved!!

June 21st, 2011

Rager Energy received final approvals on 12 MW solar farm in Harrison Township.  The 52,800 photovoltaic panels will produce enough clean energy to power approximately 2,000 homes annually.

HARRISON TWP. — A new solar field is being planned for an empty field off of Route 77, bringing green energy initiatives and tax revenue to the town.

The 100-acre parcel, owned by the Eachus family, was once a working farm, but is now an open area. Originally the farm had been set aside to have a Catholic high school built, but when the plans went through the township and the owners had to find a new use for it.

Multiple options had been discussed, with the construction of a solar field being chosen as the most feasible and beneficial for Harrison Township.

“The indirect benefits are it won’t be developed for housing, we don’t need any more burden on the school system,” said Mayor Lou Manzo. “And we didn’t want it to be developed as more commercial property because you’re getting more into the open space area.”

United Solar Group and Rager Energy Consulting LLC have received a long-term lease from the landowners and plan to build approximately 50,000 solar panels on it.

The project will include building phases, with the company installing a portion of the panels in each phase.

Once completed, the energy output will become a taxable entity, raising around $70,000 per year for the township.

“Obviously it’s a wave of the future, it’s environmentally forward thinking, we think it will be it’s a $70,000 ratable for us, which is huge,” Manzo said. “It’s like a win-win-win-win on all fronts.”

The solar field, near the intersection of Gangemi Lane, will not be visible from the road, and the township’s planning board is currently working with the developers to make sure that there is enough of a buffer zone between the field and its neighboring properties that it won’t be seen by those parties either.

Gloucester County Times

Ship Bottom Fire Company Goes Solar!!

June 21st, 2011

Rager Energy makes it possible for Ship Bottom Fire Company, a non-profit organization in Ocean County, to receive free electric at no cost to them.

Fire House Goes Solar & Saves Money

Executive Leaders Radio

June 21st, 2011

On April 22, 2011, Rager Energy was invited to participate in a 2-minute spotlight on Executive Leaders Radio in Philadelphia. Very interesting segment including interviews with Joe Schumacher, the CEO of Goddard Systems Inc, Scott Nissenbaum, the President of Finite Carbon, Bob Fesnak, the Managing Partner of Fesnak and Associates, Brian Mattocks, Rent-A-Smart-Guy.com, and Jennifer Madera, the President of The Career Finders.

Listen here –

http://www.executiveleadersradio.com/shows/greater-philadelphia-leaders/04-22-2011.aspx

http://www.executiveleadersradio.com/rager-clay-2441.aspx

http://www.executiveleadersradio.com/rager-alexa-2442.aspx

When we see land as a community to which we belong, we may begin to use it with love and respect.

May 27th, 2011

DuPont Environmental Education Center (DEEC)

The Delaware Nature Society operates the DuPont Environmental Education Center in Wilmington, showcasing where the city, river, and marsh meet. The Center, owned by the Riverfront Development Corporation, is on the edge of the 212-acre Russell W. Peterson Urban Wildlife Refuge that adjoins the tidal Christina River, which is home to many species of amphibians, birds, mammals, fish, reptiles and native plants.

My friends and I took a trip here and spent a few hours touring the vast property, walking the boardwalk, learning about indigenous wildlife,  exploring the man-made labyrinth with owl statues and branches, and climbing on everything like we were kids again; it was awesome.  Relaxing, fascinating & inspiring.  I highly recommend taking a day trip here.  They also offer Twilight Yoga…gem.

Photo credit goes to good friend Red Mohawk.  Thanks for the pics.

Photo credit: Red Mohawk

Photo credit: Red Mohawk

What do you mean I can’t stop the solar farm across the street?

April 13th, 2011

Can't we all just get along?

Wow.  I have been MIA for quite some time!  Between conferences, presentations, last minute meetings, the every day grind of working in a start-up co., and somewhere in between finding time to enjoy life, I seem to have neglected our friend called blog.

So where shall we begin?  Well recently my father, Clay, was invited to give a presentation to the town of Medford, along with a handful of other professionals in the solar biz, on the benefits of solar and how it works.  It seems that many adversaries of solar, who, upon learning more about the reality of these seemingly “ugly” contraptions, have recently converted to solar evangelists.   Solar is becoming increasingly popular, almost everyday you can find an article in the newspaper about another 10 MW solar farm being approved.. you may have even seen one popping up in your own backyard.

So what does this mean to you???  Out here in farm land we call south Jersey, we are used to seeing fields of crops, cow pastures, peach trees and old farm houses.. believe me, I know, I grew up here too!  But now we are hearing of a new kind of farm coming to town, a solar farm, and there seems to be no stopping them no matter how much we vent to the town board that for decades we watched pumpkins grow and deer graze in the empty field across the street.  We understand and empathize with your situation.  But at the same time we are here to help shed light on the other perspective, the benefits that this sun soaking apparatus has to offer.  Like I said, there seems to be no stopping them, so let’s find out why.

Well, first and foremost, the State has deemed solar to be “inherently beneficial”, which means, solar cannot be stopped just because we don’t want to look at it.

“Inherently beneficial use” means a use which is universally considered of value to the community because it fundamentally serves the public good and promotes the general welfare. Such a use includes, but is not limited to, a hospital, school, child care center, group home, or a wind, solar or photovoltaic energy facility or structure.”

“Wind, solar or photovoltaic energy facility or structure” means a facility or structure for the purpose of supplying electrical energy produced from wind, solar, or photovoltaic technologies, whether such facility or structure is a principal use, a part of the principal use, or an accessory use or structure.”

Aside from all the obvious reasons of going solar:   dependance on foreign oil, war as an effect of that reliance, pollution from dirty energy sources, increasing electricity rates… need I say more?  With that said, while our solar machines are quietly sunbathing, they are actually working towards a greater good in reducing the propensities of the past.

Now let’s address some of the concerns that solar raises:

Do they emit radiation, are they toxic and do they pose health issues for those living near them? No.  Solar panels do not emit radiation or any radioactive side effects.  In short, solar panels are comprised of silicon cells sandwiched between tempered glass with galvanized or stainless steel racking, none of which is toxic to the earth and all of which is recyclable at the end of the panel’s life cycle.

Are the solar panels noisey and will we hear them across the street? We had several studies done by an acoustic engineer who concluded that, number one, the panels themselves do not make noise.  Secondly, the inverters, which convert the electric from DC to AC power release a low hum, which cannot be heard 100 feet away (65 decibels at the source reducing 6 dB every 10 ft.).  Conclusion:  crickets are much louder.

Aesthetics of the solar farm –  solar farms must follow strict guidelines imposed by the town planner, which usually consists of a 100-foot front set back, 6′ fencing, lined with black vinyl (which has been determined to blend very well with natural habitats), and a hefty buffer consisting of a mixture of deciduous and needle-leaf trees, shrubs, bushes and any other landscaping the town stipulates.  The goal of the farm is to blend in with the natural environment in contrast of resembling utility equipment or a substation.

Do solar panels create glare? Solar panels are designed to absorb light (not reflect) to convert into electricity.  Most panels now contain two layers of anti-reflective coating which reduces reflection and increases sunlight absorption.  To give a comparison, solar panels have a similar reflectivity % as:  dry sand, needle-leaf trees and grass-type vegetation.

What are the effects on the environment? First, let me say that we do not put solar farms on property that requires cutting down trees!  There is plenty of open space to utilize, most of which is no longer being used by farmers who wish to sell or lease their land and retire from the highly physical lifestyle of farming (believe it or not, solar farms are actually helping people who can’t sell their land during these economic times and can no longer work the land themselves), plus, the land below the solar panels have the option of being farmed by low-lying crops, otherwise, we plant meadow grass.  Solar is not an impervious surface, meaning, solar panels do not inhibit natural recharging of the land and allow the absorption of water.  Examples of impervious surfaces can include driveways, homes, pavement or any other cover that prevents water from being absorbed into the ground, thereby preventing aquifers from being replenished and causing run-off, soil erosion, flooding and other environmental hazards.

And once built, we have a passive solar farm ladies and gentlemen. This is less obtrusive than even a regular old farm.  Solar farms do not make use of harmful chemicals such as pesticides and fertilizers and there is no additional dust, mud or noise generated from tractors and farm equipment.  Let’s also take a second to consider the alternatives.  Some of these properties have residential and industrial zoning which permits housing developments and industrial uses such as manufacturing, freight, trucking, workers, traffic, signs, buildings, chemicals, pollution and other undesirables to move in.  Even though a farmer has been occupying the land for what seems like a lifetime, many are selling their land and you never know who the new owner will be.  At least with solar, you’re getting a quiet neighbor for 15, 20, 30 years or more.

What happens to the equipment when the solar panels are done being used? There are several options when deciding the method of installation.  We choose to go with either an I-beam or an earth screw, which does not require concrete pilings or any permanent fixture.  Both are comprised of either galvanized or stainless steel and again, does not contaminate the earth.  When it is time to remove the panels we simply pick up the equipment, leaving the earth virtually untouched aside from holes similar to what you would expect from fence posts and take everything to a recycling center for the material to be reused in computers, calculators, and whatever else your heart desires.

Additionally, solar farms do not increase the number of homes, traffic, children in school systems, the need for additional police, septic, etc.  On the other hand, solar farms DO increase the local tax base and jobs.  Solar supports 15-30 jobs for every megawatt produced.  Solar can also help municipalities and schools in reducing their electric bill and therefore contribute that money towards their disposable income.  Feel free to contact us for details on how to make this happen. And finally, one solar project (10 MW AC), enough to power 2,000 homes annually, will offset 16,200 tons of CO2 per year, equivalent to planting 2.375 million pine trees a year.

Now I pose the question, is solar our friend or foe? And remember what they say in grade school, don’t judge a book by it’s cover.  He might be “ugly” but he has a big heart.

Solar Victory

December 13th, 2010

Email received from Michael Rader of SEIA (Solar Energy Industries Association) reads:

“As you may have heard, SEIA and the solar community scored a huge win yesterday by securing a one-year extension of the Section 1603 Treasury Grant Program as part of the tax legislation under debate in the Senate”.

This has been a long-awaited and suspenseful verdict for the solar industry, especially for large-scale solar farms whose viability are dependent on the grant extension.

President and CEO Rhone Resch of SEIA, released the following statement today, December 10, 2010, applauding the Senate’s inclusion of a one-year extension of the Department of Treasury Section 1603 program in their tax bill compromise:

“The 1603 tax credit has created flexibility for funding renewable energy projects and is fundamental for keeping the solar industry growing in America. To date, the program has facilitated the construction of more than 1,100 solar projects in 42 states. At a minimal cost to the tax payer, the 1603 program has supported $18 billion in investment in new renewable energy projects throughout the country and has created tens of thousands of jobs. Plain and simple, this program provides the greatest return on taxpayer dollars. The program has allowed the solar industry to grow by over 100 percent in 2010, create enough new solar capacity to power 200,000 homes and double domestic solar employment to more than 93,000 Americans. This program has created new opportunity for electricians, plumbers, and construction workers during the worst economic climate since the great depression.

“An extension of the program will keep our U.S. industry growing and help achieve the industry’s goal of installing enough new solar energy to power 2 million new homes each year by 2015. None of this would be possible without the tireless leadership of solar’s champions on Capitol Hill on both sides of the aisle. In particular, Senators Cantwell, Feinstein, Ensign and LeMieux stepped up to support American jobs in the renewable energy industry and helped convince the Senate to include this provision in the final bill.

“But this is not over yet. Congress must now move swiftly to pass this compromise bill and keep solar working for America.”

The TGP was created by the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act (Section 1603) to provide commercial solar installations with a cash grant in lieu of the 30 percent solar investment tax credit (ITC). President George W. Bush signed the 8-year ITC into law in 2008, but the economic conditions created by the global recession made it clear that few would be able to utilize the tax credit.

So far, the TGP has helped move forward more than 1,100 solar projects in 42 states. A report on the impact of the extension of the TGP by EuPD Research projected it would create 65,000 new U.S. jobs and 5,100 megawatts of solar capacity – enough to power more than 1 million households.

This is all I want for Christmas this year.  Dear Congress, please pass this bill extending the TGP.  Thank you.

BYOP

November 19th, 2010

BYOP

Last night, Rager Energy attended Bring Your Own Philly (BYOP), a networking event sponsored by Brolik Productions, a branding and interactive agency based out of Philadelphia [Brolik is also the company that designed our killer logo and website].  The event was held at Studio: Christensen located in Rittenhouse Square.  What a great time.  BYOP brings together professionals from all over the Philadelphia region and includes a wide range of professions including various business owners, entrepreneurs, artists, clothiers, photographers, film makers, graphic artists, finance sources, attorneys and other independent professionals.  The party is fully catered with gourmet meals served tapas style by Catering by Miles, a full service catering and event planning company delivering simple yet elegant cuisine for events in a stylish and artistic manner.  It’s delicious to say the least.

Alex, Drew, Rashelle

Christopher, Owen, Sam

Elizabeth, Catering by Miles

Julie, Matt, Barbie, John

Studio: Christensen

Qino: Quinoa Vodka

Moi & Alex

BYOP is quickly becoming one of Philly’s prominent networking channels.  Over the past year, we’ve watched Brolik’s social affair gain popularity and grow out of their previous venues.  Through BYOP events, Rager Energy has made several key business contacts and developed many other invaluable relationships.  A big thanks to the guys at Brolik Productions.  Keep the parties coming.

Stacey, Clay, Owen

Interpreting Section 1603

October 19th, 2010

There has been a lot of discussion amongst seasoned professionals in the renewable field, as well as, with accountants and attorneys attempting to interpret Section 1603 of the The American Reinvestment and Recovery Act of 2009.  The question remains, what constitutes as 5 percent of the total cost of the project to be completed before year-end 2010 in order to be eligible to receive a cash payment in the form of a grant from the US Treasury versus taking the Solar Investment Tax Credit (ITC)?  Although Section 1603 covers several qualified properties and various procedures, in this case we will focus on solar PV.

Background
Taxpayers who own property eligible for tax credits under sections 45 and 48 of the Internal Revenue Code (IRC) may elect to forego claiming tax credits and instead apply to the United States Department of the Treasury (Treasury) for a cash payment. To do so, taxpayers must place eligible property in service during 2009 and 2010. Property placed in service after 2010 may also be eligible so long as construction began after 2008 and prior to 2011 provided, however, that more than 5 percent of the total cost of eligible property has been incurred, and must be originally placed in service prior its respective credit termination date (i.e. January 1, 2013 for large wind, and January 1, 2017 for solar photovoltaic).

So what does this mean?  As time ticks on and the rush to get eligible projects qualified for the grant before year end, solar integrators look for answers.  Some speculate that you just need to show that you spent 5% of the total project cost in order to be eligible for the grant, others guess that 5% of the physical work must be completed, and still others surmise it should be a mixture of the two.

So what’s the right answer?  Having just returned from the Solar Power International 2010 Conference in Los Angeles (which was amazing btw), I learned that even experts in the industry are unclear of it’s definite meaning, however, I can tell you this:

  • Construction must begin before year-end 2010 (this is not as simple as it sounds)
  • “Physical” work on the specified property must begin and there be a schedule of continuous work in place.  Meaning:  you cannot move some dirt around, drop off a bunch of panels on the site, stage the ground, take some pics, assume you have 5% complete, and call it a day.
  • You must have a concrete plan and schedule of contiguous construction.  If you complete 5% of construction, take off the next 6 months and assume you’re safe, you might be disappointed when the IRS comes back and has you repay the generous grant money you received years prior.
  • In addition to having construction started with a schedule of work in place, you must also have 5% of actual costs paid or incurred by year-end.
  • Don’t think 5% paid and delivery of materials will suffice.  Some suppliers, either out of negligence or in the effort to score business, have offered that this will be enough to qualify for the 5% rule, but this is not the case.  If you are counting on the grant to make your project work for you, be sure to cover all aspects: physical work, schedule of construction and costs paid or incurred.
  • Additionally, the project must also be under a binding rate contract.

If you are planning on applying for the grant to make your project work for you, don’t chance it.  You are already spending a substantial amount of money on your solar investment.  Please seek professional advice from an attorney or accounting firm specializing in this area of expertise.  I retrieved the above information during a seminar, where Ms. Laura Ellen Jones from Hunton & Williams, LLP based out of Richmond, VA, answered the question regarding Section 1603.