Monmouth County awards lease for solar project in Howell

The Monmouth County Board of Freeholders has awarded a lease agreement to turn county-owned property into a solar energy project.

The property, commonly known as the Howell Landfill, is on Lakewood-Allenwood Road in Howell and was listed on the New Jersey Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) 2014 Landfill List as properly closed, according to a press release from the county.

In a resolution awarding the lease agreement, the freeholders said that while the DEP “substantially limits the development and use of closed landfills … the implementation of solar projects on landfills is a priority for the DEP.”

“Creating a solar panel project at the closed landfill in Howell is an all-around win,” Freeholder Director Thomas A. Arnone said. “The solar power that comes from this project will save taxpayer dollars while providing an environmentally clean energy source that will be used to power our homes, local businesses, traffic signals and everything in between.”

A 19-year, 364-day ground lease agreement was awarded to HESP Solar LLC of Suffern, N.Y., by the freeholders during their meeting on Oct. 24.

As per the terms of the lease, the company will pay Monmouth County $37,500 per megawatt (MW) constructed for the solar project. The project is estimated to be up to 10 MW, which would equal up to $375,000 per year and up to $7.5 million over the 20-year lease.

Monmouth County will share a percentage of the money it receives through the lease with Howell, according to the press release.

“We will be watching this project very closely and studying its success to see if this is something to replicate in the future,” Arnone said.

During the freeholders’ meeting, officials said certain approvals related to the solar project at the former landfill must still be acquired. It is hoped the project will be ready to proceed within one year.