The New Jersey state legislature recently approved A1084, a bill that would require solar panels to be included in the design and construction of all new public schools across the state. The Assembly Appropriations Committee is awaiting assurance from the Legislative Council that A1084 does not violate any New Jersey statutes. New Jersey’s school construction budget is one of the largest in the nation.
Controversy Over Solar Panel Mandate A1084
In addition to the benefits derived from switching to a clean, renewable form of energy, proponents of A1084, most notably Assemblyman Reed Gusciora, a well-known advocate of Green initiatives for New Jersey, argue that the mandate will also help create jobs, and help offset the rising costs of energy. According to the Statement section of A1084:
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 this difference will only increase, leading to escalating savings for the school district over the life of the system.
Opponents of A1084 argue that the law would not be practical for all school districts in New Jersey, some of which are still struggling financially. The New Jersey Principals and Supervisors Association supports the legislation, but only as an “incentive based approach, rather than a mandate to meet our state’s school facilities’ needs.”
Pennsylvania School District Positively Impacted By Solar Power
Although Pennsylvania hasn’t approved a similar mandate, one school district is reaping the benefits of its investment in solar energy. Soon after A1084 was approved, the Carlisle, Pennsylvania school district began using solar power. The district is now getting about a sixth of its energy from the sun. It is estimated that solar panels will provide 16 percent of the energy that the district needs. The project is also expected to reduce the school system’s carbon footprint by offsetting more than 2 million pounds of carbon dioxide emissions annually.
We will continue to monitor mandate A1084 and update you on any developments.