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Panels Would No Longer be Considered ‘Impervious Surfaces;’ Would Allow Them to be Constructed in Environmentally Sensitive Areas

(TRENTON) — Legislation sponsored by Assembly members Upendra J. Chivukula, Annette Quijano and John F. McKeon that would exempt solar panels from designations prohibiting construction in environmentally sensitive areas of the state recently received final legislative approval.

“When talking about improving sustainability or increasing New Jersey’s reliance on green energy, making it easier to construct solar panels and solar energy collectors just makes sense,” said Chivukula (D-Somerset), chairman of the Assembly Telecommunications and Utilities Committee. “Integrating solar energy into our development and environment master plans is the way to go.”

Under the bill (A-2289) New Jersey’s definition of “impervious surface” or “impervious cover,” as it relates to land use and development, would be amended to exclude solar panels, making it possible to integrate solar energy into the development and management plans of the state’s environmentally sensitive areas.

“We are laying the groundwork to ensure that New Jersey remains at the forefront of sustainable energy generation,” said Quijano (D-Union). “This is an investment in New Jersey’s energy future that will pay dividends for years to come.”

“Advancing an alternative energy economy is key to our state’s energy independence and our national security,” said McKeon (D-Essex), chairman of the Assembly Environment and Solid Waste Committee. “This measure increases our options for installing solar panels, furthering our national leadership in the use and development of renewable sources.”

The measure passed the Senate 36-0 on March 11; the Assembly passed it 75-0 on March 22. It now heads to the Governor, who may sign it, veto it, or modify it in the form of a conditional veto.

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