During a meeting of the SADC (State Agricultural Development Committee) on Feb 25, 2021, the goals within the 2019 NJ Energy Master Plan- Pathway to 2050, https://www.nj.gov/emp/docs/pdf/2020_NJBPU_EMP.pdf were presented, which discussed large scale solar utility expansion, to meet future climate change goals for the state.

Senator Smith and other co-sponsors have proposed Senate Bill 2605 https://www.njleg.state.nj.us/2020/Bills/S3000/2605_I1.pdf  that, while supporting the state’s effort to meet 2035 and 2050 goals for solar electric generation, creates concern about the location of large scale solar on New Jersey’s remaining preserved and unpreserved farmland.

New Jersey’s farmland preservation program administered by the SADC https://www.nj.gov/agriculture/sadc/about/, has been successful in saving thousands of acres for future generations.   The pressure to develop the remaining farmland continues. The SADC proposed amending the legislative language to limit solar sites on preserved farmland.

Pandemic related interruptions in New Jersey’s food distribution illustrated that keeping farmland productive is necessary to sustain local food resilience and security. The solar energy goals can be achieved with alternative collector sites, such as: parking lots, landfills and rooftops of commercial buildings and residences. Maintain our precious farmland for food production!

Included in NOFA-NJ’s mission is the promotion of local food for greater resiliency and security.  Every acre of remaining farmland is important.

ABOUT THE SENATE BILL 2605:

Smith, Bob   as Primary Sponsor

https://www.njleg.state.nj.us/members/BIO.asp?Leg=53
Bateman, Christopher   as Primary Sponsor

https://www.njleg.state.nj.us/members/BIO.asp?Leg=304
Diegnan, Patrick J., Jr.   as Co-Sponsor

https://www.njleg.state.nj.us/members/BIO.asp?Leg=387
Lagana, Joseph A.   as Co-Sponsor

https://www.njleg.state.nj.us/members/BIO.asp?Leg=411

6/25/2020 Introduced in the Senate, Referred to Senate Environment and Energy Committee

Committee Voting:
SEN  8/24/2020  –  r/Sca  –  Yes {3}  No {0}  Not Voting {1}  Abstains {1}  –  Roll Call 8/25/2020 Reported from Senate Committee with Amendments, 2nd Reading
9/24/2020 Referred to Senate Budget and Appropriations Committee
1/11/2021 Transferred to Senate Environment and Energy Committee

FURTHER READING/RECENT ARTICLES:  

https://www.njspotlight.com/2020/07/solar-farms-on-nj-farmlands-state-looks-to-boost-large-scale-projects/

https://www.njspotlight.com/2020/08/nj-massive-solar-grids-using-agricultural-land-legislation/

https://www.inquirer.com/science/climate/new-jersey-farmland-preservation-events-solar-renewables-climate-change-20200902.html

https://www.lehighvalleylive.com/phillipsburg/2021/02/innovative-solar-power-plan-outside-phillipsburg-places-panels-over-farmable-land.html

https://pressofatlanticcity.com/opinion/editorial/don-t-cover-nj-farmland-and-cleared-forests-with-state-mandated-solar/article_3c91ca96-1116-5c81-8be2-c25569d9b486.html

https://www.nj.gov/agriculture/sadc/about/highlights/SolarPowerpoint022521SADCMeeting.pdf

https://www.sustainablejersey.com/fileadmin/SJ_Documents/Other/Solar/Background%20Document/Solar%20Siting%20in%20NJ%20Background_DRAFT_v3.pdf

https://www.nichomusrunsolar.com/