Dear Editor,

I wish to ensure that my position is clear on the current solar project and settlement currently impacting Sussex, Morris and Somerset Counties.  If I was a sitting Freeholder at the time that this project was implemented in Sussex County, I would not have supported this risky financial model.  I would have voted “No” on the solar project.

As Executive Director of the New Jersey School Board Association, in 2010, a solar program proposal was put forward to me by the NJSBA’s energy consultant.   At the time it was presented as a small risk, high reward.  I felt strongly that the organization had no business getting involved in such a project and we declined to participate. 

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Why did Assemblyman, Parker Space in 2011, then a sitting Freeholder, vote “Yes” to involve Sussex County in the solar project?  He has been very quiet on this issue and has left his colleagues “holding the bag.”

As for the settlement, I have spoken to several Freeholders so as to understand the facts.  As I was not present during the many hours of executive sessions that the sitting Freeholders participated in, I cannot state as to whether I agree or disagree on the settlement.   To do so without all of the facts would be irresponsible. 

I am concerned and worried that Freeholder Phoebus is not accepting the terms of the settlement agreement.   She was on the minority end of the vote.  As a Freeholder, that does not mean that you are not honor bound to accept the majority vote.  Freeholder Phoebus is behaving recklessly.  Her actions could possibly cause the taxpayer further legal expense.  Let’s be clear, this is a very troublesome situation but the settlement ensures that the County is not on the hook for and additional $24,000,000.00. 

Instead of all of the finger pointing there should be protections put into place to ensure this scenario does not recur.  Certainly there should be discussion to propose legislation to protect individual counties when entering into inter-county agreements.  Certainly there needs to be an investigation as to how this happened.   Let’s stop the finger pointing and get to work.

Sincerely,

Marie S. Bilik, Green Township

Candidate for Assembly