Prospect Park in Passaic County has become the first municipality to adopt a Community Energy Plan through the New Jersey Board of Public Utilities’ grant program.
The borough used a $25,000 grant to retain DMR Architects to prepare the plan, which identifies more than two dozen initiatives that Prospect Park will implement within a five-year period, ultimately naming the Hasbrouck Heights-based firm as its planning consultant to help guide the implementation.
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 Public Service Electric & Gas to transition to EVs, 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.
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 $25,000.
Prospect Park also is on the verge of becoming the first municipality in New Jersey to complete an LED streetlight conversion for the entire borough, an effort it is coordinating in partnership with PSE&G. This measure will improve aesthetics and make the town more energy efficient as well as generate cost savings for the borough, reduce the community’s carbon footprint and improve public safety by reducing accidents by 60%.
“This is the next step for us towards making more clean energy sources available and reducing GHG emissions,” Prospect Park Mayor Mohamed Khairullah said. “We had a public reading of the plan earlier this month and there was overwhelming support from our residents and businesses.”
Tracey Woods, energy program manager for Sustainable Jersey, said she was thrilled to see the effort.
“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,” she said. “Their commitment to change shows that any municipality can address climate change in a meaningful way.”
Daniel Hauben, a senior project planner for DMR Architects, said the firm was eager to assist.
“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,” he said. “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.”