By Janet Redyke
Roughly 35 solar ready individuals converged on the 10- acre farm of Karen and Dan McDougal in Lafayette to celebrate the “ground breaking”, construction and start of the Sussex Solar Garden.
While background music, songs like Here Comes the Sun and Let the Sunshine in played, the project was exclusive to current Sussex Rural Electric Co-op customers. These customers elected to become solar energy members. Currently 18 families will take part in the usage of shared, community solar energy. According to administrative partner, Alan Spector, the garden is the first within the state of New Jersey’s public utilities. The garden represents a sub-group of Sussex Rural.
“Solar farms and gardens have been available in other states like Maryland, Vermont and New York for about 10 years,” Spector said.
The garden will include 156 solar panels producing 50 kilowatts of renewable energy to the currently signed-on 18 customers. The project, actually ahead of schedule, did not have a physical ground breaking but several county and business officials posed for photos, some being, District 24 representatives Hal Wirths and Parker Space and president and CEO of Sussex Rural Electric Co-op Chris Reese. The officials torqued a sample solar panel to the solar frame. Many of the officials also spoke briefly during the dedication type ceremony.
“It is “empowering” to have community solar power,” Spector quipped. “It is truly a grassroots effort.”