NJ Oak Solar in Fairfield Township, New Jersey is the biggest non-utility owned solar farm of its kind east of the Mississippi with over 53,000 solar modules. The farm is owned by Chicago-based Lincoln Renewable Energy. Currently, the Company is developing several other projects and recently announced their joint venture with Samsung C&T Corporation.
The $50 million, 12.5 MW solar farm is situated on 101 acres. It commenced operations in December, 2011 and furnishes electricity to over 1500 homes.
Benefits to the Town
Although the actual solar panels are NJ property tax exempt, the facility increased the property value 35 times the original assessment. In the event the facility is discontinued the property will revert to agricultural zoning.
Additionally, the facility requires few resources from the town. Fairfield Planning and Zoning Board Chairman Mark Chiappini noted a housing project developed on the site would require Township fire, police, and sanitation services.
Moreover, Chiappini praised Lincoln on its accommodations and cooperation in dealing with the community in creating the facility. The project is screened by trees to keep the same agricultural feel of the town.
For more information about the project, watch the below short video.
Understanding the Math
Although, I am thrilled when projects use renewable energy, I can’t figure out the math. The project costs $50 million dollars and is only serving 1500 homes. Each home costs $33,000 for their part of the system? This seems to be an extortionate amount of money per house when there is economy of scale here.
Variables That Are Not in the Equation
I looked all over the internet for more information about how this project was structured. My attempts to contact the Company failed since I could not find a phone number.
Here are the questions that I have:
1. Did the Company receive the following incentives to make the $50 Million price tag more palatable?
- Town tax incentives?
- The actual state rebates, or
- Incentives from the utility.
2. Even if they did receive any or all the above incentives, isn’t the incentives basically taxpayer’s money?
3. Are the taxpayers paying a certain rate to help payback the system?
4. Is 100% of the electricity covered for the 1500 homes?
I have reached out to interview the CEO of the Company so he can shed some light on the numbers. Hopefully, someone will respond so I can update the story.
Join the Conversation:
- Thoughts about solar farms? Does it truly benefit the towns?
- Can someone explain the math to me and how it makes sense to the taxpayers?
- Do you think there is a better renewable source or method in lieu of large solar farms?
- Do you have any further questions you want me to ask?