Only in New Jersey: Turning landfills into grassy solar farms?

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It sounds like one of those “Only in New Jersey” situations. A law passed in 2012 makes it tougher to build fields of solar panels on farmland or green space but instead calls for more solar development on contaminated land and landfills.

The latest such solar farm that will be built will be in Linden on the town garbage dump that was closed and capped about 20 years ago.

Linden Mayor Derek Armstead and officials from CS Energy of Edison gave News 12 New Jersey a tour Monday of the site.

“The idea here is to create a ratable versus something that's taking money away from the town,” says Armstead.

CS Energy has built about 10 of these landfill-solar projects. It has become their specialty.

“We've been doing landfills for over 10 years. We actually built the first landfill-solar project in New Jersey up in the Meadowlands with PSE&G,” says Chief Commercial Officer Eric Millard.

Projects like these make sense for New Jersey. Unlike Arizona or California - states that have big stretches of deserts or open space for solar fields – New Jersey is densely populated. But what the Garden State does have is a lot of toxic waste sites and capped landfills that can't be built on.

“But it goes to show you just how Mother Nature will reclaim almost anything. If you look at the land here, it looks very pristine,” Armstead says.

The Linden project will provide enough electricity to power about 1,000 homes at reduced rates for customers. Officials say that they hope to begin construction soon.

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