New Legislation Promotes Solar Panel Development

May 6th, 2010 | Posted by: Christopher DeGrezia 1| comments:

Solar EnergyBy Michael A. Smith, Esq. LEED AP

On April 22, 2010, Governor Christie signed into law S-921 – new legislation designed to facilitate solar panel development and, more broadly, to fortify New Jersey’s position as a green energy leader.

S-921

Under this new legislation, S-921, solar panels are now exempt from zoning limitations on impervious cover – a planning term for hard surfaces such as buildings and driveways, that prevent water from absorbing into the ground. On solar panels, municipalities have been contradictory in their impervious cover requirements, with some treating solar panels as impervious. S-921 addresses this inconsistency – solar panels cannot be restricted through impervious coverage limitations. Note that the base or foundation of a solar panel may still be regulated as impervious cover.

For purposes of S-921, “solar panel” is defined as “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 and excludes the base or foundation of the panel, plate, canopy, or array.” In that regard, S-921 amends various land use laws, including the Municipal Land Use Law, the Wetlands Act of 1970, the Coastal Area Facility Review Act (CAFRA), the Highlands Water Protection and Planning Act, the County Planning Act and the
Planned Real Estate Development Full Disclosure Act.

Related Legislation

On a macro level, S-921 is among several recent legislative efforts to reduce land use permitting obstacles for green energy developers (e.g., P.L.2009, c.244 (municipalities cannot unreasonably restrict development of certain small wind energy systems for onsite consumption); P.L. 2009, c. 213 (biomass, solar and wind energy facilities are now permitted on certain commercial farms); P.L. 2009 c. 146 (the Municipal Land Use Law now defines “inherently  beneficial use” to include, among other uses, wind, solar and photovoltaic energy facilities); P.L.2009, c.35 (renewable energy facilities are now permitted on sites that (i) are zoned industrial, and (ii) comprise 20 or more contiguous acres under common ownership)).

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One Response to “New Legislation Promotes Solar Panel Development”

  • L. P. says:

    Hi I live in Pittsgrove NJ 08318. My township requires a wavier for any solar power system over 10kw the system we need is 14.9kw. Along with the wavier is a very long check list of requriment that they want, which so far is costing me a lot of money and I am not even done with the list. I heard that Governor Christie was in the process of signing a bill to prevent township from blocking home owners from putting up solar power system. My question is did he sign the bill and if he did when dose it take effect.

    Thank you

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