Helping Farmers, The Community And The Environment

As temperatures fluctuate and climate becomes increasingly unstable, crops begin to suffer and farmers begin to panic. New Jersey has many farmers and, as of 2017, the state reported to be home to 9,000 farms covering 720,000 acres. Of these farms, close to 40 percent of the land farmed is farmed by someone who does not own it… and the numbers are continuing to grow each year. Farmers in this region have had to sell off vast amounts of land to developers or have subdivided their land and started to sell it off, piece by piece. Some have even had to sell their land to an investor and then turn around and lease their own land to continue to farm on it. Needless to say, we must help farmers in our Garden State to retain their land and still be economically viable.

With this thought in mind, we have a possible solution… New Jersey solar rebates and incentives could be used to help these farmers retain their farms, make more money and be inclusive in bringing energy costs down to their surrounding communities. We believe that allowing farmers to place photovoltaic and/or concentrated solar power stations on their land is a way to do this. It is my goal to create a bill that would do this very thing.The goal would be to place these solar fields on those farmers’ land that qualify and distribute the energy collected to the local community power grid. Those surrounding properties connected with the same power grid as the solar farm would benefit as the added power would be distributed evenly throughout the grid. Each solar farm would act as a co-opted energy consortium that would be rewarded monetarily by those who benefit from just being on the grid. We are also looking into paying the farmers for their participation in this program using incentive based programs like the PSE&G – Solar Loan Program, the Edison Innovation Clean Energy ManufacturingFund and the Edison Innovation Green Growth Fund Loans, among others. We want to also incentivize these programs by giving schools and public buildings the opportunity to participate, all be it on a smaller scale. We believe that this is the type of bill that would see little push back and may even be expedited in the process as our local farmers well-being is a bipartisan concern. To us, it’s a win-win-win scenario that would benefit agriculture, community and clean energy initiatives.

I will continue to pursue all possible options available towards bringing our region into the future while creating new jobs, new economic viability and new clean energy technologies. We can do it… together, we can.