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Solar Canopy Will Be Built On Library Parking Lot

Township committee gives consent for Morris County project to move forward.

A project to construct a solar panel canopy over the Montville Township Public Library will be moving forward after it received a blessing from the Montville Township Committee Tuesday night.

According to Mayor Tim Braden, Morris County is spearheading and paying for the project. Braden said similar projects have been done at Mennen Arena and Randolph High School.

"This will be at no cost to us, but the township committee has to provide a resolution to move ahead with the developer," he said.

The library is expected to reduce electricity costs as a result of the solar panels, a savings of approximately $20,000 per year, Braden said. The panels would be installed for 15 years through the Morris County program, but the timeframe could be extended at a later date. The Montville library project, as well as solar panel projects at the high school and Lazar Middle School, are part of the county improvement authority's solar initiative to generate more than $3.8 million in savings over 15 years.

Township Attorney Martin Murphy said that while the library property is owned by the township, the Montville Township Public Library Board of Trustees has full control of the parking lot. But Murphy thought the township committee should indicate in writing that the members support the project.

"I think it's appropriate, if you are in favor of supporting this, that we adopt a resolution," he said.

Township Administrator Victor Canning said the county would want to ensure both entities agree and that there would but no issue moving forward.

"I don't think they want to get in the middle of political infighting where the trustees are making one decision and the town committee has no knowledge of it," Canning said. 

Township committee members were in agreement with the project as long as it did not cost taxpayers any money, which Braden assured them it would not. Braden also said the timing of the project is suitable because of the technology involved.

"People were concerned about the technology and the fact that solar technology is ever-evolving, but we were informed that the curb on solar technology is starting to level out so its a good time to do it," he said.

Maxim Sapozhnikov October 24, 2012 at 12:32 PM
The project assumes that 1) the renewable mandate will stay for 15 years, and 2) no vandalism damage occurs. Both assumptions seem iffy. And the net global warming effect (even assuming it's an actual problem) is negative because manufacturing the panels require more electricity than they generate over their life cycle.
Scott Gallopo October 24, 2012 at 01:55 PM
Max - Excellent points. We (the Library Board and the Township) would not be responsible for any maintenance of the structure. Effectively, we would be changing power providers - from JCPL to the developer of the solar array, and the Library would benefit from the lower power rates from the solar power grid. Also understand that the TC was asked to "endorse" the project (at the request of the County) because we own the property . The Library Board of Trustees is responsible for the due diligence, and ultimately they will make the decision. Scott C. Gallopo Township Committeeman
Gerald October 24, 2012 at 03:27 PM
Morris County is paying for it, which means taxpayers are funding this. No? Also, are the savings on our electricity based upon SRECS and estimates about the weather? Both of which are can vary. Also, who owns the equipment, i.e., the inverters and panels? Do we own them and they are warrantied for a set number of years? Inverter replacement is very expensive. I am all for saving money, wherever we can, but I know from past experience that dealing with solar is not as simple as the people presenting it make it appear to be. Please make sure to do a thorough analysis and ask all the "What If" questions you can think of, assuming of course you have not already.
Ariana Cohn-Sheehan (Editor) October 24, 2012 at 04:12 PM
Gerald-maintenance of the panels and equipment would be the responsibility of Morris County since the county is funding the project.
Gerald October 24, 2012 at 05:06 PM
Yes, I assume someone would pay. My point is is that this is not really free to tax payers. At the local level yes, but it does have an impact on county taxes.
Gary Lewis November 12, 2012 at 02:36 PM
I think it's terrific.......I believe the Sustainability Advisory Committee discussed and/or recommended this in conjunction with the energy audit several years ago. It's great to see forward movement......the amount of electricity consumed by the library is unbelievable.....I think they are the biggest municipal user (not counting the schools). Again, with regard to the tax impact, if the County has already issued the bonds, some other community will reap the benefit if Montville opts out and we will pay the tax on the debt service anyway. I'm not sure solar energy is the right business for the county to be in these days, but I leave that decision to our freeholders. To not cut $20,000 annually from the Township utility expense would be the real crime here in my view. Gary Lewis

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