MANAHAWKIN, NJ-New Jersey’s largest proposed solar project hasbeen approved by the State House Commission, allowing constructionto begin on a 6.5-megawatt solar farm on a portion of the cappedStafford Park landfill.

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Construction on the Stafford Park Solar Farm is expected tobegin by year-end, and is scheduled to be completed 18 monthslater. The plan calls for the installation of 24,624 solar panelsin 1,026 arrays on 30 acres of the capped landfill. When completedin phases, it will generate 6.5 megawatts of power.

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“It’s been a very time-consuming and arduous process,” saysJoseph A. DelDuca, general counsel and partner of the WaltersGroup, the developer of Stafford Park, which is located on 370acres at the Garden State Parkway and Route 72. “We’re very happyit’s done.”

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The solar farm is one element in a mixed-use complex that alsoincludes retail and residential space, all designed withconservation and clean energy in mind. All retail buildings haveachieved a minimum of LEED-Silver certification, with Stafford ParkApartments achieving LEED Gold status, the first affordable housingcomplex in the state to do so. The retail buildings owned by thedeveloper also have rooftop solar panels.

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Construction on Stafford Park began in December 2006, and thenext year the developers decided to explore the possibility of asolar park on part of 55 acres that would not be used for retail orresidential uses.

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“New Jersey is a favorable climate for solar development becauseof subsidies,” DelDuca explains. However, the approvals process wascomplicated because the site had been classified as green acresspace, necessitating multiple town meetings and additionalapprovals. Other agencies, including the New Jersey PinelandsCommission, the Stafford Township Planning Board and the New JerseyDepartment of Environmental Protection, had already approved thedevelopment.

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With the last approval in place, the Walters Group can finalizefinancing and begin construction on the first phase of the park,likely to provide 2.88 megawatts of power to some of the retailstores and residential units.

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