Gov. Phil Murphy has approved a three-year program to see how well New Jersey agriculture and renewable energy can complement each other.
The pilot program will allow the construction of “dual-use” solar projects on unpreserved farmland.
Such installations allow the land below and between the panels to remain in agricultural production. The solar arrays are generally mounted on stilts.
The Board of Public Utilities will permit the projects in consultation with the Department of Agriculture, and will develop financial incentives for participants.
Individual projects can produce up to 10 megawatts, and the state may approve up to 200 megawatts of generation.
The bill includes protections for prime farmland, the Pinelands and Highlands conservation areas, and forests and wetlands.
Land that is part of the pilot program would be eligible for farmland tax assessment if certain conditions are met.
Rutgers will support the pilot program with research on the effectiveness of farming under the panels.
Murphy signed the bill July 9 in Seaside Heights as part of a signing ceremony focusing on renewable energy.