Legislation in support of Solar and Wind energy

The New Jersey Legislature has passed and is considering a number of bills to promote and facilitate the siting and development of solar and wind energy systems. They are Senate bills 1299, 1303 and 2528. S1299 permits the location of cetain renewable energy facilities in districts zoned for industrial use. A  "renewable energy facility" is a facility that engages in the production of electric energy from solar technologies, photovoltaic technologies, or wind energy. Under the bill which became P.L. 2009 c. 35, a renewable energy facility is a permitted use in all industrial zones in every municipality provided the land consists of at least 20 contiguous acres. S1303 would make wind, solar or photovoltaic energy facilities "inherently beneficial uses". The bill if passed would have the effect of having all renewable energy facilities satisfy the positive criteria for the grant of a variance under N.J.S.A. 40:55D-70 and thereby facilitate such facilities siting and location throughout New Jersey municipalities. S1303 has passed the Senate and has been favorably reported out of committee in the Assembly. S2528 provides for the regulation of small wind energy systems and prohibits municipalities from adopting ordinances or resolutions that unreasonably limit or hinder the installations of such systems. Small wind energy systems are those that generate power that is to be used primarily for on-site consumption.  Prohibitions in the proposed bill include: (i) prohibiting small wind energy systems in all districts; (ii) restricting tower height that does not address the typical tower height required for such systems; (iii) requiring a setback from a property boundary that is greater than 150 percent of the system height; and (iv) setting a noise limit lower than 55 decibels at the site property line. S 2528 was introduced February 2, 2009. These bills demonstrate that our legislature understands the importance of promoting renewable energy and green building initiatives.