About Us
Back Issues

Back Issues


enerG Magazine
enerG Digital
enerG Xpress Newsletter

Click here to view
more events...

MerCo Publishing Inc.
525 Route 73 N, Suite 104
Marlton, NJ 08053

Maintained by Lytleworks

A super solar project in New Jersey

A new community solar project on a Superfund site in New Jersey is making renewable energy more accessible, thanks to the work of AC Power LLC, a woman-owned brownfield solar developer, and NJR Clean Energy Ventures.

By Paul MacDonald

A recently completed landfill community solar project in New Jersey is a win on a number of fronts, including delivering clean renewable energy to utility customers, such as lower income residents of the Garden State.

Not every home or business may be suitable for solar panels, but that doesn’t mean they can’t benefit from clean energy and savings.

With the completion of the new community solar project at the Global Sanitary Landfill in Old Bridge, New Jersey, AC Power LLC, a woman-owned brownfield solar developer, and NJR Clean Energy Ventures (CEV), the renewable energy subsidiary of New Jersey Resources, are making clean energy more accessible to customers, especially low-to-moderate-income residents. 

Community solar projects provide the benefits of clean energy to homeowners, renters and businesses who may otherwise be unable to install or access it. Consisting of 5,746 solar panels, the 2.8-megawatt (MW) Old Bridge array will provide renewable energy and reduced electricity costs to approximately 460 homes in Middlesex and Monmouth counties.

CEV is leasing approximately eight acres of the under-utilized space for the array for 35 years. The Old Bridge project was accepted as part of the New Jersey Board of Public Utilities’ Community Solar Pilot Program and supports the state’s climate goals.

The Global Landfill served the community of Old Bridge from 1968 until 1984, when it closed due to a slope failure on the site’s perimeter. The New Jersey Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) ordered operations to cease, and the landfill has been inactive ever since.

In 1989, the site was placed on the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA) National Priorities List of Superfund sites. After extensive environmental cleanup and monitoring over the past 30 years, remedial action at the landfill was successfully completed, paving the way for the Old Bridge Community Solar array. 

The Old Bridge Community Solar project was developed and permitted by AC Power, a leading solar development company with expertise in turning brownfields into clean energy assets. “AC Power’s mission is to re-energize communities with solar, one brownfield at a time,” said Annika Colston, founder and CEO of AC Power. 

CEV acquired the project from AC Power in March 2023 and retained CS Energy to build the facility. The project was placed into service in November 2023. 

As a Superfund site, the landfill is overseen by the EPA and the New Jersey DEP. The project involved a fair bit of advance work, both with government bodies, and other stakeholders.


Photo courtesy of AC Power


Colston explained that AC Power first had conversations with one of the stakeholders, a group that represented companies that had been identified by the EPA as having historical involvement in the landfill, in 2019.

“I was soliciting their interest in being a partner in a solar project at the Old Bridge landfill site,” she said. “I was essentially proposing to lay solar power across the top of their multi-million-dollar compliance solution. And they were interested.”

The group, the Potentially Responsible Parties Group, said there were several issues with the site, however, including obtaining clear title, the lack of an active owner resulting in accumulated property taxes amounting to about $3 million, and obtaining legal access to the site.

Colston and the AC Power group were undaunted by the challenges, since they only develop solar projects on previously disturbed properties: they know the drill with projects such as the Old Bridge landfill.

“We’re used to complicated projects, and complicated sites,” she says. “So I told them those were really big issues to tackle—and I was totally interested in moving ahead with development.

“The Old Bridge site was a great candidate: it had the right layout, the right topography and it was the right location.”

Moving forward, instead of the focus being on paying the back taxes, which was unlikely, AC Power looked at what could be done to the property to bring benefit to the community now. “Our position was that if it was developed as a solar project, we would be bringing the site back to the property tax rolls for the town, and bringing income to the com-

Getting legal access to landfills is not an uncommon challenge, says Colston. “There had been a lot of adjacent parcels of land that had been subdivided, and there was no clear access to the site without crossing other people’s sites. It may seem kind of odd to have landlocked properties, but it really does happen all the time with old landfill sites.”


NJR Clean Energy Ventures is one of the largest solar owner/operators in New Jersey. Since 2010, it has invested over $1.2 billion in commercial and residential solar projects, and today maintains 70 commercial solar assets across six states and a portfolio of over 470 MW of installed capacity. (Photo courtesy of AC Power)


And sometimes it can be all about timing with developing a solar power project. At that point, New Jersey was introducing its pilot program for community solar. “The program was quite robust, with supportive economics,” she said.

While AC Power looks for the obvious attributes of a potential solar project, such as good ground and a nearby interconnect, one of their top boxes to tick with a project is engaged stakeholders.

Colston met with the Township of Old Bridge. “I explained that they had this great redevelopment opportunity in their town, but without their support, we were not going to be able to do it.”

That would mean taking the existing owed taxes lien and converting it into payments going forward. Essentially, they put forward a Payment In Lieu of Taxes (PILOT) proposal. “They were a key part of the project being able to proceed.”

The Township came on board. “Through our collaborative efforts, we were able to revitalize a decades-old former landfill and turn it into a beacon of sustainability and clean energy,” said Old Bridge Mayor Owen Henry, of the project.  “Not only does this project symbolize our community’s commitment to green energy, but it also promises tangible benefits for our residents, including job creation and energy savings.”

There were extensive meetings and work with the EPA and New Jersey DEP, to get the necessary approvals.

AC Power applied to the state program and was approved, which started the clock to build the solar project and have it operating by November 2023.

During the development phase, AC Power successfully tackled the issues, including transferring the title, but it took time to get through the challenges, and move to the construction phase.

“That’s where NJR Clean Energy Ventures’ and CS Energy’s expertise and commitment to the project was so visible,” says Colston. “It was the point where the long term operator steps in, along with the EPC contractor, to build the project.”


NJR Clean Energy Ventures, the renewable energy subsidiary of New Jersey Resources, is leasing approximately eight acres of the underutilized space of the landfill for the solar array for 35 years. The Old Bridge project was accepted as part of the New Jersey Board of Public Utilities’ Community Solar Pilot Program, which supports the state’s climate goals. (Photo courtesy of CS Energy)


CEV, which purchased the project from AC Power, invests in, owns and operates solar projects and provides residential and commercial customers with low-carbon solutions.

New Jersey-based CS Energy is a leading engineering, procurement, and construction (EPC) renewable energy firm that designs and builds optimized projects in solar and energy storage.

The project is the first New Jersey community solar project in CEV’s portfolio. “By turning this brownfield into a source of clean electricity, we are making the benefits of solar power more accessible for those who may otherwise not be able to benefit from an onsite array,” said Robert Pohlman, Vice-President of CEV.

“Part of our overall corporate strategy is to deliver higher percentages of clean energy to our customers, and a community solar project like Old Bridge is a great example of how we do that.”

Some 51 percent of the power credits from the project are going to low- and moderate-income households, he added.

“To be able to re-purpose a landfill site, create renewable energy and do it in a very equitable way is a win/win/win for us,” said Pohlman.

AC Power has worked with CEV on three other solar projects, so there was a history of successfully developing and completing projects.

Pohlman noted that CEV is one of the largest solar owner/operators in New Jersey. Since 2010, it has invested over $1.2 billion in commercial and residential solar projects and today maintains 70 commercial solar assets across six states and a portfolio of over 470 MW of installed capacity.  

CEV and CS Energy started construction of the Old Bridge project in March 2023, and faced the challenge of building a solar project, securing equipment and labor, in a condensed timeline.


CS Energy, which built the solar array, said the Old Bridge project was a good fit for the company given its extensive solar work and experience working with NJR Clean Energy Ventures—it had done the largest landfill to solar power project in U.S. with CEV in New Jersey.


Janani Ramkumar, Vice-President of Operations for CS Energy, said the Old Bridge project was a good fit for the company given its extensive solar work and experience working with CEV—it had done the largest landfill to solar power project in U.S. with CEV in New Jersey.

“It was a tough schedule, though,” says Ramkumar. “Lead times on equipment were a big challenge. We worked with AC Power on obtaining some of the long lead equipment, like switch gears, ahead of time, to keep to the construction timeline.” The main components were Hanwha Q.Peak Duo 485 w solar panels, CPS (Chint Power Systems) inverters, and the project featured TerraSmart Glide racking.

“We had to make sure that everything went like clockwork on the project—that was the most challenging part. But we have a very experienced team, and sub-contractors, so things were efficient.”

She noted that something new is that CS Energy needed to come up with an execution strategy for Inflation Reduction Act (IRA) compliance. “It required quite a bit of documenting, and we submitted that to CEV on a monthly basis, so they could comply with IRA tax credit requirements. But that went pretty smoothly.”

CS Energy received the construction contract in March 2023, mobilized on site in June, and the project was essentially mechanically complete in September, and energized in October—ahead of the November deadline.


Ramkumar said the site challenges were similar to other landfill projects they had worked on in the past. “From a construction standpoint, a typical challenge is the weight distribution during construction so you don’t disturb the landfill or cause any ruts on the surface.” They have ways to deal with that, she said, such as using tracked equipment, on site.

CEV’s Robert Pohlman noted that while there were not any particularly unusual challenges to the Old Bridge project, each project has its own characteristics.

“We’ve built a lot of these projects with CS Energy and other contractors, and you think you have seen it all,” he says. “But every project is so unique. You run into new things, and learn a bit more with each project, and you get to put that in your toolbox for future projects. These projects are complex—it takes a lot of team work to get them done.”

And with the number of landfills in the state, and the region, Pohlman says the company is looking forward to doing more similar projects. “We have significant hope for a fruitful next few years for more landfill to solar projects like Old Bridge.”

As for AC Power, company CEO Annika Colston is happy that the Old Bridge project is performing well.  “We’re excited that this 'trash-to-treasure' solar project is now powering 400 local homes with clean energy.”

AC Power is now actively working on developing other landfill solar projects.

“We initially built the business of developing projects on previously disturbed land, and we believe there is more than enough opportunity out there. We were initially developing projects in New Jersey, but we have moved on to doing projects in New York and we’re also developing projects in Illinois and Maryland.”

State support and legislation is key to the success of projects, she emphasizes. “It is much easier and much more viable to develop solar on landfills and other previously disturbed sites where there is state legislation to support it, because on an apple to apple basis, these projects don’t compare, economically, with conventional ground mount projects.

“The IRA presents some additional opportunities,” she added, “but it remains to be seen over the next year or two if it will move the needle.”

Q1 2024