The fate of the proposed Toms River solar farm should be known in a couple of weeks when the planning board meets on October 16. Toms River Merchant Solar LLC, which hopes to build New Jersey’s largest farm on the former Ciba-Geigy Superfund Site, must answer the public’s concerns about environmental issues and security, which derailed a decision during September’s Planning Board meeting.
The plan—which calls for 35 megawatt DC ground-mounted solar photovoltaic power generation facility with 90,000-92,000 solar panels—doesn’t just need approval from the town. If passed by the town over the objections of nearby residents who worry that contaminants will be disturbed by the construction, it will then require Ocean County and NJ Department of Environmental Protection approvals. Should it go through, the project will be supervised by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency.
The facility would cover almost 118 of the 166 acres leased from the 1,200 overall acres of the Superfund Site on Route 37. If approved, construction could begin as early as February. The project is expected to take six months to complete.
While that would create the biggest solar farm in the state, it pales in comparison to the largest solar farm in the United States. In California, Solar Star covers 3,200 acres with 1.7 million solar panels and produces nearly 580 megawatts of energy. It is actually two co-located solar installations and took three years to complete construction.
Governor Phil Murphy has been a proponent of solar and other renewable energy sources. His energy master plan, released in June, calls for New Jersey to be completely reliant on renewable sources by 2050.