Milford, New Jersey may go solar

Milford, N.J., may soon take the advice of Rutgers University students to heart as it decides to install a photovoltaic array. Students from the university’s Bloustein School of Planning and Public Policy recently completed a report showing the potential for renewable energy in Milford.

The study looked at which renewable—biomass, wind or solar—would be best for Milford.

"They were already writing a master plan provision to be more active in three things: biomass, wind and solar," said Rutgers professor Robin Murray. "Students were able to come in and show them biomass and wind weren't feasible."

The results won't help the municipality make an immediate decision.

"Part of the purpose of the students doing the work for them was to give them more information to study," said Murray. "It's a year and half to two years for this to go through in terms of this process. This is the initial step."

The students produced a 130-page report on the Milford project.

“That report will be a resource for many other municipalities,” said Murray.

She said that the school will soon put the report on the web for other towns and cities.

“It gives them a foot in the door to give them a quicker grasp of the issues,” she said. She added that things not included in the report, like GIS information about sites, will be available in the online version.

When they started the study, three potential properties were located by Milford as potential sites.

"One immediately dropped out. It was very small and downtown," Murray said." Of the other two, they looked at one that was owned by the borough, and they'd lease that instead of selling the property, she explained.

Indeed, if the city does progress with a project, it will likely be on property it can lease.

“We have a piece of property that’s 80-some acres. If anything was to happen in the borough, that’s where it would be,” said Karen Dysart, Milford’s municipal clerk.

That property could sustain more than enough energy to feed the entire municipality’s electric needs.

“That was a very happy coincidence that the site could provide enough for the borough,” Murray said. “The entire borough usage was, I believe, 8.5 megawatts,” she added.

Milford is likely to move forward with a project, Dysart said.

“We’re pretty aggressive,” said Dysart. “We’re in the process of doing a solar energy ordinance. In the next year we may be doing RFPs [requests for proposals].”

The other site identified in the report is the Curtis Paper Mill, a privately held Superfund site.

The city property and the mill site are located contiguously, Murray explained.

She said one scenario is that the city could develop solar on the city-owned property and that power could initially be used to power the clean-up efforts at the paper mill.

“If they redevelop it,” Murray said, “they could put solar on all the rooftops.”

Image courtesy of Bloustein School.