Discussing a solar farm

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  • Photo by Ann Genader Sections of the Wallisch property are isolated from the main house/barn and Lincoln Ave., good sites for a solar farm.


The West Milford Board of Education and representatives from the Township of West Milford listened Tuesday night as presenters Joseph Ponzo and John Drzymkowski of the Siemens Company explained how use of solar energy can benefit the municipality and its taxpayers. The meeting was at Westbrook School.

School trustees and council members have all stated that saving money by lowering operating costs without cutting services to help ease the taxpayer burden are their individual and collective goals.

Ponzo said the New Jersey Energy Master Plan supports solar renewable energy to help reduce peak demands. He is very familiar with the Wallisch property and showed possible areas for solar panels there. Brownfields and landfills are also ideal candidates for solar energy sites, he said.

The presenters said in order for West Milford to get the most benefit, they should now reduce energy usage in order to get maximum success before changing their energy source. Use of the Wallisch property, the high school roof and property in woods behind Macopin School for solar projects will save significant money – with solar panels at the Wallisch property offsetting the cost, they suggested.

“A comprehensive audit paid for by the Board of Utilities will let the district know where energy savings can come from,” said school board President James Foody. “This project – or I should say audit – will allow us to do a lot of necessary improvements to our infrastructure while utilizing our existing budget without raising taxes to do so.”

Ponzo explained that the Energy Savings Improvement Program (ESIP) is the retrofitting of public facilities with energy conservation measures without a new capital investment. He said savings from reduced energy use pays for the improvements with no new money needed. This applies to all government contracting units including school districts, he said.

“The main purpose of the meeting was for information gathering,” Foody said at the end of the presentation. “We are continuing into the discussion stage with the board and council working together as things develop. This is new to all of us.”

Township of West Milford Council members present to listen and have some questions answered were Michael Hensley, Lou Signorino, Tim Wagner, Ada Erik and Marilyn Lichtenberg. Foody said copies of the presentation were being sent to township Administrator Antoinette Battaglia for municipal governing board further study.

Celeste Hampton, a member of the Friends of Wallisch Homestead, said during the public comments part of the meeting that the solar presentation sounded really interesting with a program that doesn’t hurt anyone and brings clean, green energy.

Hampton said solar energy located on the Wallisch property seems to be a plan to help the Friends organization too. She said there can be no building on the wetlands that the property has and she noted that solar farming is farming.

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West Milford, NJ