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Gusciora, Barnes, Coutinho Bill Would Require All New Schools to be Constructed With Solar Panels

The Assembly Education Committee on Thursday approved an eco-friendly, long-term, cost-saving measure for schools sponsored by Assembly members Reed Gusciora, Peter J. Barnes III, and Albert Coutinho. The bill (A-1084) would require the design and construction of all new school facilities to incorporate the use of solar panels.

“New Jersey is the second largest producer of solar energy in the country, right behind California,” said Gusciora (D-Mercer). “This legislation is another creative and innovative way to encourage the use of solar panels, helping New Jersey remain a role model for the rest of the country.”

“A solar power system is key to reducing or eliminating a school building’s electric bill,” said Barnes (D-Middlesex). “Installing a solar power system is equivalent to prepaying for 40 years of power at a fraction of the current cost.”

“As energy rates increase the amount saved through the incorporation of solar panels will only increase,” said Coutinho (D-Essex/Union). “Ultimately, this will lead to escalating savings for the school district over the life of the system.”

Under the “Educational Facilities Construction and Financing Act” passed in 2000 the Commissioner of Education would be prohibited from approving an application for the construction of a new school facility unless it incorporates the use of solar panels. This requirement would be applicable to a new school facility constructed by either a school district or the New Jersey Schools Development Authority.

The sponsors noted that generating electricity through solar panels benefits both the community and the environment and will result in lowered consumption of fossil fuels, as well as reduced pollution and greenhouse gas emissions from local power plants.