Renewable Energy Legislation Signed

The following Renewable Energy legislation was signed into law in New Jersey on January 16, 2010.

S1538/A2859 Concerns biomass, solar, and wind energy generation on farms

Allows solar and wind energy generation on preserved farms under certain circumstances and includes solar and wind energy generation on commercial farms as protected activities/permitted use under the “Right to Farm Act.”

  • Certain distinctions are made between preserved farms and non-preserved farms.
  • Preserved farms limited to 110% of annual onsite consumption.
  • Applications for site development will go to SADC (State Agricultural Development Committee) not to the municipality.

S2528/A3740 Provides for regulation of small wind energy systems by municipalities

Ordinances adopted by municipalities to regulate the installation and operation of small wind energy systems shall not unreasonably limit such installations or unreasonably hinder the performance of such installations.

Unreasonable limits or hindrances to performance shall include the following:

  • Prohibiting small wind energy systems in all districts within the municipality.
  • Restricting tower height or system height through application of a generic ordinance or regulation on height that does not specifically address allowable tower height or system height of a small wind energy system.
  • Requiring a setback from property boundaries for a tower that is greater than 150 percent of the system height. In a municipality that does not adopt specific setback requirements for small wind energy systems, any small wind energy system shall be set back from the nearest property boundary a distance at least equal to 150 percent of the system height; provided, however, that this requirement may be modified by the zoning board of adjustment upon application in an individual case if the applicant establishes the conditions for a variance under this act.
  • Setting a noise level limit lower than 55 decibels, as measured at the site property line, or not allowing for limit overages during short-term events such as utility outages and severe wind storms.
  • Setting electrical or structural design criteria that exceed applicable State, federal or international building or electrical codes or laws.

S1096/A3218 Creates Solar and Wind Energy Commission

This bill would create the Solar and Wind Energy Commission to study the feasibility of solar and wind energy installation on State owned property.

The Commission shall make recommendations and report on the findings and conclusions of the study.  The study shall investigate State-owned property that could feasibly support solar or wind energy installations, including buildings and land.  The Commission shall research the financial implications of installing and maintaining solar or wind energy and the projected energy and financial savings to the State, including the potential for net metering.  The Commission shall include a discussion of property values, land use, community impact, planning and development, and environmental factors related to the State-owned property sites where solar or wind energy installations are feasible.