County embarks on clean energy initiative
Solar plant, hybrid trucks unveiled at
BY JENNIFER AMATO
PHOTOSBYJENNIFER AMATOMiddlesex County will begin using biodiesel fuel in its heavier equipment vehicles,
such as this truck, to reduce the dependence on environmentally
unfriendly fossil fuels. Officials are preparing a long-term
conversion plan for the para-transit fleet
to burn clean fuels.
SOUTH BRUNSWICK - A new Clean Air and
Energy Efficiency Program for Middlesex County was announced Friday by
the Middlesex County Freeholders, the state Department of Environmental
Protection and the state Board of Public Utilities.
Freeholder H. James Polos
introduced the county as a new "Showroom of Environmental
Technology," which will lead the state in reviewing environmentally
sound energy practices. The initiative will promote clean energy use
while providing assistance to municipalities, agencies, authorities,
schools and the private sector by implementing new programs and
facilitating communication with government officials. A press conference
announcing the initiative was held at the Rutgers Cooperative Extension
Service at Davidsons Mill Pond Park in South
Middlesex County has
purchased 22 hybrid vehicles, a mixture of the Escape SUV by Ford,
left, and the Prius by Toyota.
"The state BPU and the DEP have
recognized Middlesex County's leadership role in clean air, water and
energy efficiency programs and education," said Polos,
the chairman of the county's Public Works and Transportation Committee.
"This partnership will go a long way in assisting our municipalities
and, in turn, all our residents by reducing government operating costs
and improving our environment for today and for future generations."
Included in the announcement is the
installation of a 25,000-kilowatt solar power plant on the property
directly in front of the Rutgers building for teaching and research
purposes. In addition, the county has purchased over 20 hybrid vehicles
to promote clean air emissions and gas efficiency.
"The use of hybrid vehicles,
alternative fuels and other clean-energy technologies goes a long way
toward reducing air pollution and improving public health," DEP Commissioner
Lisa Jackson said. "We talk all the time at DEP that we need to
change individual behaviors and personal strides, ... and I'm happy that
Middlesex County is doing that and being that change in our world."
Through this program the county will also
offer "how to" seminars, schedule trade shows to present new
technology and equipment and schedule municipal meetings to inform local
officials of the plans tailored to meet community needs. Middlesex County
already operates several recycling programs, a compost facility and the
Open Space Preservation and Farmland Preservation programs.
"What we are talking about today is
an extension of what we have already done in Middlesex County," Polos said.
The county will receive assistance from
the state in the form of grant money and rebates on the hybrid vehicles.
However, officials believe the federal government must play more of an
integral role in protecting the environment.
"I wish the federal government was
doing more with energy efficiency and alternative fuels,"
Congressman Frank Pallone said. "The [county and state] are taking
initiatives on the issue and the government should emulate it."
He added that this huge step within the
county will enable him to go to Washington and say, "Look what North
Brunswick is doing."
For residents to individually contribute
to the reduction in fossil fuels, the Clean Power Choice Program from the
Board of Utilities offers solar, wind, landfill gas or low-impact or
small hydro power to individual homeowners.
The cost is approximately $5 to $9 per
month for an average home using 700 kilowatts of energy per month
depending on the type of power used. For more information call (800)
515-5353 or visit www.NJCleanPower.com.