The "silly season" has clearly started. The day after Labor Day is renowned for politicians kicking their campaigns into high gear and it is no different in Springfield where politician Chris Capodice, former Democrat chairman, has marked the beginning of his campaign for Township Committee with a tall tale about saving tax dollars with solar power. It sounds great with plenty of catch phrases and rhetoric but it leaves out a lot of details. It demonstrates how much he is in the dark on the subject and how he failed to do his homework on the current state of Springfield's infrastructure.
How exactly does installing solar panels cost nothing and how exactly does he intend to partner with JCP&L to do this for free? As a former Mayor and Deputy Mayor during Hurricane Sandy, and like any resident who has lived in Springfield for a day knows, JCP&L can't keep the power on when more than five people sneeze in town.
The basic infrastructure is in such need of improvement that solar panels are light years away. During my six years on the Township Committee I personally explored this idea diligently. The Democrats also explored this dating as far back as Mayor Sy Mullan and the late Mayor Ken Faigenbaun. His own party couldn't get it done. A little bit of fact checking and research goes a long way.
Two major Solar power companies, one that I asked to come in as recently as last year said we had a major issue: Springfield lacks a critical component in many places in town, and that is a delta-wye transformer. It prevents us from being able to put solar panels on a number of buildings. JCP&L has repeatedly insisted they won't install the transformer unless Springfield provides the capital in an amount that equals in the tens of thousands of dollars. As for the utility poles and lights, residents will only see panels installed in towns served by PSE&G. We in Springfield do not use PSE&G for electricity. Springfield receives only natural gas from PSE&G and therefore we are not eligible for this program. Again, a major cost for JCP&L that they are not willing to assume.
Helping the environment and saving money is a noble effort, so I'm not suggesting we give up on this. That's why I insist on some details and doing some homework before carelessly throwing out vague generalities and branding them as a "smart solution." This is a disservice to all of Springfield.
On the other hand, as someone who does follow what our local government is doing, I can tell you that Committeewoman Geri Bujnowski is committed to “realistic smart solutions” to this problem. Recently, Geri supported a workaround solution to this problem that the both Democrats and Republicans on the Township Committee unanimously adopted at their last meeting.
The town held a reverse electricity auction for all the municipal buildings, street lights, etc. and required the winning energy provider to commit to supplying electricity to the town that came from renewable energy sources. They accomplished just that - over 900,000 kWh of electricity from 100% renewable energy and at a savings for three years. The total annual electric bill for the town is just around $100,000. Our ratable base is valued at $1.1 billion. Yes, every penny does count, but I think the priority should be on things that will truly make a difference for taxpayers and their home values, not on soundbites to pander for votes.
This is why I support Geri Bujnowski for Township Committee, she does her homework and offers solid smart solutions to benefit all the residents in Springfield.