New Jersey Governor Chris Christie lent a hand today as Public Service Electric and Gas (PSE&G) and union workers broke ground on a renewable energy project that will transform a dormant Hackensack,  brownfield into a solar farm.

While kicking off work at the job site, PSEG chairman, president and CEO Ralph Izzo also announced that the utility will request New Jersey Board of Public Utilities (BPU) approval to invest up to $883 million to expand the utility’s Solar 4 All and solar loan programs to develop an additional 233 megawatts (MWs) of solar capacity.  This expansion will create approximately 300 direct jobs per year over the next five years.

“New Jersey is a national leader in the solar industry,” said Governor Chris Christie.  “Solar investment projects like the Hackensack Solar Farm are an integral part of our state’s renewable energy portfolio, increasing New Jersey’s solar capacity, creating jobs and securing the protection of our precious environmental resources. This Administration pledges to continue moving forward with our commitment to develop renewable sources of energy and with corporate partners like PSEG, New Jersey will continue to lead the way.”

“Every time we reclaim a landfill or brownfield site with solar panels, it’s a win for the people of New Jersey,” Izzo said. “Governor Christie deserves recognition for his forceful support of developing green energy projects on these sites, which benefit the state’s economy and environment, as well as the communities where these properties are located.  This is the fifth PSE&G project that uses renewable energy to breathe new life into a brownfield or landfill. We are ready to do more of these projects and transform sites like this all over the state to generate more jobs along with clean renewable energy.”

The 1.06-MW PSE&G Hackensack Solar Farm is part of the utility’s Solar 4 All program that is helping New Jersey meet its renewable energy goals in a cost effective manner while creating jobs and helping the state’s green energy sector mature.  When the current Solar 4 All program is complete early next year, PSE&G will have created about 175 direct jobs each year for the last three years and spent $300 million with more than a dozen companies that are either headquartered or have a presence in New Jersey while developing 80MWs of solar capacity.

Reclaiming brownfields and landfills has been a centerpiece of PSE&G’s innovative Solar 4 All program.  In addition to the Hackensack project, similar installations are in service in Trenton, Edison, Linden and Kearny.  When the PSE&G Hackensack Solar Farm begins operation later this year, the utility will have reclaimed more than 40 acres or about 30 football fields of vacant brownfield and landfill space, populating those sites with more than 40,000 solar panels that will produce more than 10 MWs of solar power.

“These proposals build on the success of our current programs,” Izzo said. “We are poised to make these New Jersey investments that will create 300 construction jobs per year, provide significant business opportunities for our suppliers and advance the state’s Energy Master Plan objectives.”