Here Comes the Sun: New Jersey Exempts Solar Panels from Impervious Coverage Limits

A recently enacted New Jersey law encourages the use of solar energy by allowing solar panels to be excluded from the computation of impervious coverage when determining whether a development project complies with impervious coverage limitations. The new law, P.L.2010, c.4 , amends the Pinelands Protection Act, Coastal Area Facility Review Act, Highlands Water Protection and Planning Act, County Planning Act, Waterfront Development Law, and Municipal Land Use Law, as well as laws pertaining to the conversion of age-restricted community developments.

In each of these laws, the amendment defines a solar panel as “an elevated panel or plate, or a canopy or array thereof, that captures and converts solar radiation to produce power, and includes flat plate, focusing solar collectors, or photovoltaic solar cells and excludes the base or foundation of the panel, plate, canopy, or array.” Any solar panel meeting that definition can be excluded when computing impervious coverage.

The new solar panel law is just one of the initiatives which encourages the use of solar and other green energy sources. As recently reported on this blog in a post titled New Jersey Proposes Addition of Solar Power Facilities to its Green Initiative, identical bills, Senate S2126 and Assembly A3139, are pending before their respective house of the New Jersey’s legislature and would amend the MLUL to provide that Solar and Wind Energy Generation Facilities, when installed on the sites of former landfills, quarries and other extractive industries, are permitted uses. If the proposal is enacted, this status would be equally applicable to both public and private sites where landfills, quarries or other extractive industries are closed or closing.

Clearly, New Jersey is serious about alternative energy and is working legislatively to make it a reality.

Howard D. Geneslaw is a Director in the Gibbons Real Property & Environmental Department.

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