Friday, July 16, 2010

Solar and biofuel bills clear NJ environment committee

The New Jersey Senate Energy and Environment Committee yesterday approved bills that expand siting opportunities for solar-energy facilities and promote state use of biofuels.

Senator Jim Whelan (D-Atlantic County) said there are roughly 80 old landfills in Pinelands region towns where local governments do not have the money to properly cap the facilities. His bill, S-2126, would allow solar-energy developers to overcome existing Pinelands restrictions and erect solar arrays on the site of any closed landfill or quarry. 

Whelan said the towns could use revenues generated by the energy facilities to help pay the cost of capping the facilities. The bill also permits similar installations at closed landfills and quarries outside the Pinelands.

The environment committee also released twin bills S-1413 (Smith) and A-1052 (Quijano/Cryan/Chivakula) that require state entities to purchase biofuels in place of fossil fuels when it is "reasonable, prudent and cost effective to do so."

The bill was amended to define "biofuel" as "liquid or gaseous fuels produced from organic sources such as sustainably grown and harvested crops including native noninvasive energy crops, agricultural residues, non-recycled organic waste including waste cooking oil, grease and food wastes, sewage and algae." 

The amended bill defines 'energy crops' as those "grown exclusively for energy production, including switchgrass and poplar."

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