GALLOWAY TOWNSHIP — Six years have passed since the first discussions took place, but the site of the township’s ongoing recycling center operation and now-closed landfill will soon contribute to the state’s supply of electricity.
Earlier this year, the Township Council agreed to transfer a redevelopment agreement to New Jersey Resources Clean Energy Ventures, which is building a 3.2-megawatt solar system on a 70-acre site, said Mark F. Valori, vice president of New Jersey Resources Clean Energy Ventures.
The installation of solar panel modules began in June and was 70% finished by the end of July, said Wayne Henderson, project manager from Pro-Tech Energy Solutions of Moorestown, Burlington County. The solar energy is on track to be converted to electricity by the end of September, he said.
The energy produced at the Galloway solar field will go into the local distribution system and be sold into the wholesale energy market through regional electric grid operator PJM Interconnection, said Valori of the Wall Township, Monmouth County-based company.
“We have located 8,658 solar panels on top of that landfill. These panels take energy from the sun and convert that to electricity and that energy is captured, gathered, brought across the landfill and interconnected to the local utility,” Valori said, referring to Atlantic City Electric.
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The township project is bigger than what the company normally does on the commercial side, Henderson said.
Because the solar panel arrays were constructed on top of a closed landfill, they are anchored in place through a ballast system that has empty plastic tubs brought to the site that are then filled with concrete, Henderson said.
“You can’t drive posts into landfills for obvious reasons,” Henderson said.
Two or three feet down at the Galloway landfill is a cap that keeps water from penetrating the closed landfill, Henderson said.
“We can’t penetrate the cap, so we go with these tubs,” Henderson said. “You need weight to hold the array down in case of a wind storm.”
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The solar panels are being installed at a tilt to optimize the power of the sun without shadows, Valori said.
The sun is lowest in the sky in December, he said. The modules have been spaced apart, so the top of one module will not cause a shadow on the one behind it even in December, Valori said.
A road is being built within the site to make it easier to maintain the panels once the project is online, Henderson said.
NJR Clean Energy Ventures has 46 sites throughout the state and has completed other commercial projects in South Jersey, Valori said.
“These sites, we acquire from developers and build the assets out,” Valori said. “An objective of the state is to utilize these underutilized sites.”
The Cedar Branch solar facility is a 7.2 megawatt system in Buena Vista Township. A megawatt is a unit for measuring power, and is the equivalent to 1 million watts.
The Vineland solar facility is a 4.7 MW system.
The Absecon Community Schools Complex facility is a 0.9 MW system that provides electricity to the city’s elementary and middle schools.
The Galloway solar field will coexist with the township’s drop-off recycling operation and bulk waste drop-off, where residents discard items including furniture, mattresses, carpeting and electronic devices.
NJR Clean Energy Ventures makes payments to lease the landfill, which increased the value of the site and ratables to the township.
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“We have all worked together very well. It’s good for the township to be able to provide clean energy. It’s a win-win,” said Matt Ayres, the township’s director of public works.