Turning Garden State landfills into solar farms

    A bill allowing the development of solar farms at closed landfills in New Jersey has been approved by the state Senate.

    Environmentalists says capping abandoned landfills and putting solar farms there can turn toxic sites into places for renewable energy production.

    Senator Jim Whelan (D-Atlantic County) is one of the primary sponsors of the legislation. He says there are many closed landfills in the state including 78 of them in the Pinelands. Whelan says private companies would convert them into solar sites.

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    “We’ve had some expression of interest. In this economic climate it’s hard to predict who’s going to make that kind of investment. But we think that municipalities would encourage it because you’re taking something right now that is a detriment, an abandoned landfill, and turning it something that’s a positive, a solar farm.”

    New Jersey Sierra Club director Jeff Tittel says the bill is an important step forward in developing renewable energy.

    “Uncapped landfills leach all kinds of chemicals into our groundwater and our streams. By capping them we stabilize them and clean water quality. Then we can turn around and since it’s an impervious cap use it for solar. So we’re taking a situation that’s causing pollution and turning it into a place for clean energy.”

    The measure still faces action in the state Assembly.

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