Bill Text: NJ S1719 | 2018-2019 | Regular Session | Introduced


Bill Title: Allows installation of solar arrays by municipalities on preserved open space in certain circumstances.

Spectrum: Partisan Bill (Democrat 1-0)

Status: (Introduced) 2018-02-05 - Introduced in the Senate, Referred to Senate Environment and Energy Committee [S1719 Detail]

Download: New_Jersey-2018-S1719-Introduced.html

SENATE, No. 1719

STATE OF NEW JERSEY

218th LEGISLATURE

 

INTRODUCED FEBRUARY 5, 2018

 


 

Sponsored by:

Senator  RICHARD J. CODEY

District 27 (Essex and Morris)

 

 

 

 

SYNOPSIS

     Allows installation of solar arrays by municipalities on preserved open space in certain circumstances.

 

CURRENT VERSION OF TEXT

     As introduced.

  


An Act concerning installation of solar arrays on certain municipal open space lands and supplementing Title 13 of the Revised Statutes and P.L.1999, c.152 (C.13:8C-1 et seq.).

 

     Be It Enacted by the Senate and General Assembly of the State of New Jersey:

 

     1.    a.    Notwithstanding the provisions of section 13 of P.L.1961, c.45 (C.13:8A-13), section 13 of P.L.1971, c.419 (C.13:8A-31), section 13 of P.L.1975, c.155 (C.13:8A-47), or any rule or regulation adopted pursuant thereto to the contrary, a local unit that operates a municipal electric corporation or a municipal electric utility, in existence on the date of enactment of this act, may install a solar array on lands acquired, prior to the date of enactment of this act, for recreation and conservation purposes by a local unit with financial assistance from the State in the form of a grant or loan of Green Acres bond funds, subject to the following conditions:

     (1)   the topography of the land limits the use of the land for active recreation, and installation of a solar array will not limit the use of any opportunities for recreation, such as athletic courts or playing fields or walking or hiking trails, available on the land as of the date of enactment of this act;

     (2)   the installation of a solar array will not interfere significantly with the use of such land for recreation and conservation purposes, as determined by the commissioner;

     (3)   no Green Acres bond funds are used for the purchase or installation of the solar array;

     (4)   the local unit demonstrates to the satisfaction of the commissioner that there are no other available lands owned by the local unit suitable for the installation of the solar array;

     (5)   the solar installation shall only be sited on land existing in a disturbed state on the date of the enactment of this act, such as a roof top of an existing building or parking lot, contaminated land, or rubble strewn lot;

     (6)   the energy generated from a solar array installed pursuant to this subsection will be used only to meet the energy needs of the local unit, and the annual generation capacity of the solar array will not exceed the previous calendar year's energy demand of the local unit plus 10 percent.  The limit on the annual energy generation capacity established pursuant to this subparagraph shall not include energy generated from solar panels existing on the date of enactment of this act that are owned by the local unit; and

     (7)   the local unit agrees in writing to, at the end of the useful life of the solar array, remove it and dispose of or recycle it, as appropriate, and leave the land unimproved or install a new solar array.  A solar array shall be deemed to be at the end of its useful life if no electricity is generated for a continuous period of at least four months.

      b.   (1)  At least 60 days prior to the installation of a solar array as authorized pursuant to subsection a. of this section, the local unit shall:  notify the commissioner in writing of the intent of the local unit to install a solar array, and hold at least one public hearing in the municipality to solicit public comment on the matter. 

     The notice to the commissioner pursuant to this subsection shall include:  the location and a description, including photographs, of the lands where the solar array is proposed; information on the type, size, and energy generating capacity of the solar array proposed; and documentation demonstrating that the installation of the solar array complies with the conditions set forth in paragraphs (1) through (7) of subsection a. of this section. 

     (2)   The local unit shall further provide to the commissioner:  written notice, at least 30 days in advance, of the public hearing to be held pursuant to this subsection; written proof that the public hearing was held; and a summary of the comments received at the public hearing.

     (3)   If the commissioner finds that the proposed installation of a solar array does not comply with the conditions set forth in paragraphs (1) through (7) of subsection a. of this section, the commissioner shall notify the local unit in writing of the reasoning for this finding, and the local unit shall not proceed with the installation of the solar array until the concerns of the commissioner have been satisfied.

      c.    The installation of a solar array allowed pursuant to this section shall not be deemed to constitute a disposal or diversion of those lands pursuant to section 13 of P.L.1961, c.45 (C.13:8A-13), section 13 of P.L.1971, c.419 (C.13:8A-31), or section 13 of P.L.1975, c.155 (C.13:8A-47), or any rule or regulation adopted pursuant thereto.

      d.   As used in this section:

     "Commissioner" means the Commissioner of Environmental Protection.

     "Green Acres bond funds" means proceeds from the sale of bonds pursuant to:  P.L.1961, c.46; P.L.1971, c.165; P.L.1974, c.102; P.L.1978, c.118; P.L.1983, c.354; P.L.1987, c.265; P.L.1989, c.183; P.L.1992, c.88; P.L.1995, c.204; P.L.2007, c.119; or P.L.2009, c.117, for the purpose of providing State grants or loans to assist local units to meet the cost of acquiring or developing lands for recreation and conservation purposes.

     "Land" or "lands" means real property, including improvements thereof or thereon, rights-of-way, water, lakes, riparian and other rights, easements, privileges and all other rights or interests of any kind or description in, relating to, or connected with real property.

     "Local unit" means the same as that term is defined pursuant to section 3 of P.L.1961, c.45 (C.13:8A-3), section 3 of P.L.1971, c.419 (C.13:8A-21), or section 3 of P.L.1975, c.155 (C.13:8A-37).

     "Recreation and conservation purposes" means the same as that term is defined pursuant to section 3 of P.L.1961, c.45 (C.13:8A-3), section 3 of P.L.1971, c.419 (C.13:8A-21), or section 3 of P.L.1975, c.155 (C.13:8A-37).

     "Solar array" means a group or linked series of solar panels.

     "Solar panel" means an elevated panel or plate, or a canopy or array thereof, that captures and converts solar radiation to produce power, and includes flat plate, focusing solar collectors, or photovoltaic solar cells.

 

     2.    a.    Notwithstanding the provisions of sections 32 and 33 of the "Garden State Preservation Trust Act," P.L.1999, c.152 (C.13:8C-32 and C.13:8C-33), or any rule or regulation adopted pursuant thereto to the contrary, a local government unit that operates a municipal electric corporation or a municipal electric utility, in existence on the date of enactment of this act, may install a solar array on lands acquired, prior to the date of enactment of this act, by the local government unit for recreation and conservation purposes using constitutionally dedicated moneys in whole or in part, or lands that were neither acquired or developed for recreation and conservation purposes by the local government unit with financial assistance from the State for those purposes but which lands have been included in an inventory of lands prepared for the purposes of section 32 of P.L.1999, c.152 (C.13:8C-32), subject to the following conditions:

     (1)   the topography of the land limits the use of the land for active recreation, and installation of a solar array will not limit the use of any opportunities for recreation, such as athletic courts or playing fields or walking or hiking trails, available on the land as of the date of enactment of this act;

     (2)   the installation of a solar array will not interfere significantly with the use of such land for recreation and conservation purposes, as determined by the commissioner;

     (3)   no constitutionally dedicated moneys in whole or in part or Green Acres bond act moneys in whole or in part are used for the purchase or installation of the solar array;

     (4)   the local government unit demonstrates to the satisfaction of the commissioner that there are no other available lands owned by the local government unit suitable for the installation of the solar array;

     (5)   the solar installation shall only be sited on land existing in a disturbed state on the date of the enactment of this act, such as a roof top of an existing building or parking lot, contaminated land, or rubble strewn lot;

     (6)   the energy generated from a solar array installed pursuant to this subsection will be used only to meet the energy needs of the local government unit, and the annual generation capacity of the solar array will not exceed the previous calendar year's energy demand of the local government unit plus 10 percent.  The limit on the annual energy generation capacity established pursuant to this subparagraph shall not include energy generated from solar panels existing on the date of enactment of this act that are owned by the local government unit;

     (7)   the local government unit agrees in writing to, at the end of the useful life of the solar array, remove it and dispose of or recycle it, as appropriate, and leave the land unimproved or install a new solar array.  A solar array shall be deemed to be at the end of its useful life if no electricity is generated for a continuous period of at least four months.

      b.   (1)  At least 60 days prior to the installation of a solar array as authorized pursuant to subsection a. of this section, the local government unit shall notify the commissioner in writing of the intent of the local government unit to install a solar array, and hold at least one public hearing in the municipality to solicit public comment on the matter. 

     The notice to the commissioner pursuant to this subsection shall include:  the location and a description, including photographs, of the lands where the solar array is proposed; information on the type, size, and energy generating capacity of the solar array proposed; and documentation demonstrating that the installation of the solar array complies with the conditions set forth in paragraphs (1) through (7) of subsection a. of this section.

     (2)   The local government unit shall further provide to the commissioner:  written notice, at least 30 days in advance, of the public hearing to be held pursuant to this subsection; written proof that the public hearing was held; and a summary of the comments received at the public hearing.

     (3)   If the commissioner finds that the proposed installation of a solar array does not comply with the conditions set forth in paragraphs (1) through (7) of subsection a. of this section, the commissioner shall notify the local government unit in writing of the reasoning for this finding, and the local government unit shall not proceed with the installation of the solar array until the concerns of the commissioner have been satisfied.

      c.    Any action taken by a local government unit pursuant to this section shall not be deemed to be a conveyance, disposal, or diversion for the purposes of subsection b. of section 32 of P.L.1999, c.152 (C.13:8C-32) or any rule or regulation adopted pursuant thereto.

      d.   As used in this section:

     "Solar array" means a group or linked series of solar panels.

     "Solar panel" means an elevated panel or plate, or a canopy or array thereof, that captures and converts solar radiation to produce power, and includes flat plate, focusing solar collectors, or photovoltaic solar cells.

 

     3.    This act shall take effect immediately.

 

 

STATEMENT

 

     This bill would allow a local government unit that operates a municipal electric corporation or a municipal electric utility to install a solar array on preserved open space subject to certain conditions. The bill contains two parallel sections to supplement (1) the statutes concerning lands acquired for recreation and conservation purposes by a local unit with financial assistance from the State in the form of a grant or loan of Green Acres bond funds, and (2) the "Garden State Preservation Trust Act," P.L.1999, c.152 (C.13:8C-1 et seq.).

     The bill provides that a local government unit that operates a municipal electric corporation or a municipal electric utility may install a solar array on lands preserved, prior to the date of enactment of this bill into law, for recreation and conservation purposes, provided that: (1) the topography of the land limits the use of the land for active recreation, and installation of a solar array will not limit the use of any opportunities for recreation, such as athletic courts or playing fields or walking or hiking trails, available on the land as of the date of enactment of this bill into law; (2) the installation of a solar array will not interfere significantly with the use of such land for recreation and conservation purposes, as determined by the Commissioner of Environmental Protection; (3) no constitutionally dedicated moneys or Green Acres bond act moneys are used for the purchase or installation of the solar array; (4) the local government unit demonstrates to the satisfaction of the Commissioner of Environmental Protection that there are no other available lands owned by the local government unit suitable for the installation of the solar array; (5) the solar installation is sited on land existing in a disturbed state on the date of enactment of this bill into law; (6) the energy generated from the solar array will be used to meet the energy needs of the local government unit and the annual generation capacity of the solar array will not exceed the previous calendar year's energy demand of the local government unit plus 10 percent; and (7) the local government unit agrees in writing to, at the end of the useful life of the solar array, remove the solar array 2 and dispose of or recycle it, as appropriate, and either leave the land unimproved or install a new solar array.

     Prior to the installation of the solar array, the local government unit would be required to provide written notice to the Commissioner of Environmental Protection of its intent to install a solar array and demonstrate compliance with the conditions of the bill. The local government unit would also be required to hold a public hearing in the municipality on the matter.

     If the Commissioner of Environmental Protection finds that the proposed installation of a solar array does not comply with the conditions set forth in the bill, the commissioner would notify the local government unit in writing of the reasoning for this finding, and the local government unit then could not proceed with the installation of the solar array until the concerns of the commissioner have been satisfied.

     The installation of a solar array pursuant to the bill would not be deemed to constitute a disposal or diversion of those lands requiring certain other approvals as well as compensation or reimbursement to the State as provided under various laws and regulations implementing the Green Acres bond program, nor be deemed a conveyance, disposal, or diversion pursuant to the provisions of the "Garden State Preservation Trust Act."

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