By Joshua Burd
The borough of Prospect Park has adopted a new Community Energy Plan, working in tandem with DMR Architects, as it looks to meet the state’s growing list of goals and regulations tied to renewable energy.
According to DMR, the municipality used a $25,000 grant from the New Jersey Board of Public Utilities to retain the firm to prepare the plan, which identifies more than two dozen initiatives that it will look to implement within a five-year period. It also named the Hasbrouck Heights-based design and planning practice as its consultant to help guide the implementation, seeking to align with Gov. Phil Murphy’s Energy Master Plan and goal reaching of 100 percent clean energy by 2050.
“This is the next step for us towards making more clean energy sources available and reducing GHG emissions,” Mayor Mohamed T. Khairullah said in a prepared statement provided by DMR. “We had a public reading of the plan earlier this month and there was overwhelming support from our residents and businesses.”
The initiatives include:
- Installing renewable energy sources, energy storage and public electric vehicle charging stations on municipal properties and improving energy efficiency of municipal buildings;
- Creating opportunities for community solar programs that allow the public to purchase solar energy from off-site sources, with an emphasis on availability and affordability for low- and moderate-income households;
- Outreach campaigns to increase resident and business participation in incentive programs offered by the state, federal government and utilities like PSE&G to transition to electric vehicles, make energy efficient improvements and install solar and other forms of renewable energy;
- Replace older borough fleet vehicles with newer, preferably electric alternatives, and adopt fuel efficient fleet vehicle management practices;
- Make energy planning inclusive of low- and moderate-income and non-English-speaking households;
- Adopt zoning and regulatory language that permits renewable energy production and energy storage.
“We applaud Mayor Khairullah and the Prospect Park council for recognizing the role that reducing carbon-based energy sources plays in the overall health and wellbeing of everyone who lives and works in Prospect Park,” said Tracey Woods, energy program manager for Sustainable Jersey, a consortium of municipalities and schools. “Their commitment to change shows that any municipality can address climate change in a meaningful way.”
DMR noted that, in June 2022 the BPU approved $820,000 in grants to 46 municipalities to create Community Energy Plans to combat climate change. Prospect Park was one of only 24 designated as overburdened and eligible for the $25,000 grant.
Prospect Park is now on the verge of becoming the first municipality in New Jersey to complete an LED streetlight conversion for the entire borough, according to a news release. It’s coordinating that effort partnership with PSE&G.
“There are state-level grants, tax credits from the Federal Inflation Reduction Act and incentives through utility companies available right now making it the ideal time for municipalities to create Community Energy Plans,” said Daniel Hauben, a senior project planner for DMR, in Hasbrouck Heights. “As planners committed to building healthier and more affordable communities, our team at DMR is equipped to guide our municipal clients through the resources that are available to them now.”