Recently, the City of Newark (the “City”) approved Ordinance No. 16-0803, a/k/a the Environmental Justice and Cumulative Impacts Ordinance, (the “Ordinance”), which may significantly impact the process for seeking development approvals from the City. The Ordinance purports to advance the policy of promoting environmental justice, environmental stewardship, and sustainable economic development in the City. More specifically, the Ordinance seeks to mitigate the disproportionate impact of pollution and environmental degradation on the health of minority and socioeconomically disadvantaged communities, otherwise known as “environmental injustice.” As the Ordinance notes, the prevalence of environmentally overburdened, underserved, and economically distressed communities near industrial centers and other areas afflicted by poor environmental quality is well documented.
Recently, Governor Christie vetoed legislation designed to allow additional applications for offshore wind projects seeking approval from state regulators. The now-defunct bill, S988, sponsored by Senators Bob Smith (D-Middlesex) and Jim Whelan (D-Atlantic), sought to allow the New Jersey Board of Public Utilities (“BPU”) to open a 30-day period for the submission of offshore wind project applications. More specifically, the bill would have allowed BPU to accept and approve “a qualified wind energy project that is located in territorial waters offshore of [a] municipality in which casino gaming is authorized,” i.e. a wind project offshore from Atlantic City.
On November 3, 2012, less than five days after Hurricane Sandy washed away much of the Jersey Shore and its infrastructure, NJDEP Commissioner Bob Martin signed Administrative Order No. 2012-13 (the “Order”), temporarily waiving permitting requirements for State, County and Municipal agencies seeking to rebuild after the storm. The swift action of NJDEP unleashed a storm of its own from critical environmentalists worried that the rush to rebuild the devastated areas would recreate the same vulnerabilities.
While developers and investors were celebrating the boost to the solar energy business when Governor Christie signed S-1925 into law on July 24, 2012, increasing the state’s solar requirements, the off-shore wind sector received a boost when the US Army Corps of Engineers approved the Individual Permit under the Clean Water Act for Fishermen’s Atlantic City Windfarm. This is the final permit needed in order for Fishermen’s Energy to begin construction of the demonstration project.
USEPA Grants Technical Assistance to Coopers Ferry Partnership to Study SMART Initiative in Camden, N.J.
On July 19, 2012, Coopers Ferry Partnership was one of 17 community partners selected by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (“EPA”) to receive technical assistance as part of its 2011 strategic agenda to renew support for green infrastructure and promote its effective implementation. The Coopers Ferry Partnership will receive $70,000 to advance projects aimed at reducing water pollution in Camden, New Jersey.
Experienced New Jersey developers and land use attorneys understand the challenges that face an applicant when the proposed use is not expressly permitted in the municipality’s zoning district wherethe subject property is located. The challenge is only more complicated if the proposed use involves novel or unfamiliar technology such as renewable energy. However, in New Jersey, the government has been proactive in welcoming renewable energy projects through grants and legislation, making New Jersey definitely the place to be if you want to develop property geared towards the creation of a renewable energy facility powered by solar or wind.
As more and more business owners and homeowners in New Jersey take advantage of the incentives available to build and maintain solar energy systems and solar panels, it’s important that such investments be protected from unwanted disputes with neighbors. A little known New Jersey statute may be able to help. Recent statistics on New Jersey’s Clean Energy Program website indicate that New Jersey is the fastest growing market for solar power in the United States, and has the largest number of solar panel installations, second only to California, where neighborly disputes over trees blocking solar panels, solar panels impairing views, causing glare and other general nuisance claims are becoming more and more common.
All of us are intrigued by the concept of utilizing a clean, renewable energy source to generate abundant and cheap power for our homes and businesses. Some of us have even investigated installing a renewable energy system, but have come away disappointed due to onerous regulatory obstacles and the high cost associated with these installations. That is, unless you are looking into installing a solar energy power facility in New Jersey.
Green or Not to Green, That is the Question? Whether it is Nobler to Build a Green Building or Suffer the Ignominy of an Ungreen One
With energy costs high and the focus on combating global warming, there is an impetus toward encouraging the development of Green Buildings. Buildings account for 39% of the total energy usage in the U.S., two thirds of the electricity consumption and 1/8 of the water usage. Building codes, setting minimum standards for construction, now include standards for energy efficiency. Green Codes are creeping in.
If you are a NJ-based entity, do you have a power plant in the works? Are you thinking about a Combined Heat and Power (CHP) plant? If so, the New Jersey Economic Development Authority (NJEDA) has a grant for you if you act with alacrity. October 4, 2010, at 5:00 pm is the deadline for submitting an online solicitation for the competitive CHP grants. Grants are available for $450 per kW up to a maximum of $5 million per plant. All forms are available online.